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Film: Trance

A 2013 British psychological thriller. It stars James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson and Vincent Cassel, and is directed by Danny Boyle.

Art auctioneer Simon becomes involved in the heist of a famous painting from his own auction house; but when the thieves find the painting they intended to steal missing from its frame, and circumstances leave Simon with Laser-Guided Amnesia, the thieves turn to hypnotist Elizabeth to help Simon uncover his memories of what he did with the painting.

Not to be confused with the musical genre.


This film provides examples of:

  • Amnesiac Dissonance: Near the end of the film, Simon learns that he was in a relationship with Elizabeth, but he became so violent towards her that she had to make him forget about her through hypnosis. Also, after being hit on the head during the heist, he mistakes an innocent bystander for Elizabeth and murders her.
  • Attempted Rape: Simon interrupts one happening to Elizabeth by Nate, Franck's associate, with a gunshot to the groin.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Simon directly addresses the audience at the beginning of the film, serving as our narrator.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Several.
    • At the start of the movie, Simon stun-guns Franck in what seems to be an ill advised moment of heroism. Actually his goal was to distract Franck so he wouldn't open the case and discover that he had already stolen the painting.
    • The first hypnosis sessions turns up a set of car keys instead of the paintings the thieves wanted. It is actually the key to the car where Simon hid the painting.
    • During the second hypnosis session, Simon travels in France with what seems to be a random pretty young lady. It is revealed later that she was a passerby Simon mistook for Elizabeth and murdered.
    • Franck's revolver counts as a literal example.
  • Domestic Abuser: Simon turns out to have been one to Elizabeth.
  • Fetish Fuel: In-universe, a shaved vulva is this for Simon.
  • Foreshadowing: Plenty of it.
    • Before the heist takes place, Simon is briefly shown losing a game on an online gambling site. It later turns out that he took part in the heist because he had a gambling addiction and had to pay off his gambling debts.
      • After revealing this, he admits that he should have just gotten hypnosis to cure his gambling addiction. He did, which was how he met Elizabeth in the first place.
  • The Gambling Addict: Simon
  • Gilligan Cut: Franck's answer to being hypnotized is "definitely no." Cut to the entire group being hypnotized.
  • Gorn:
    • Franck's gang tortures Simon by tearing out his fingernails, one by one.
    • Simon blows the top half of Franck's head off. Which doesn't stop Franck from talking to him. Turns out Simon was in a hypnotic trance at the time.
    • Groin Attack: One immensely painful gunshot to one of Franck's associates.
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: Subverted with Simon. His youthful facial features (which includes his bright blue irises) tend to be highlighted, and he initially appears to be the most sympathetic character in the film, but it's later revealed that Simon is an abusive, violent boyfriend and a murderer.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia:
    • After Franck hits Simon in the head, he initially can't remember anything about the heist.
    • Elizabeth also manages to make Simon forget everything about herself and their abusive relationship.
  • Mind Screw: It does have a relatively coherent plot, but thanks to the nonlinear narrative and frequent fluctuations between hypnosis and reality, it may take you a while to fully wrap your head around it.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Simon is nude in one scene (although his hands cover his genitals).
  • Ms. Fanservice: Elizabeth appears completely naked twice and mostly naked a few more times.
    • It was oddly justified in at least one scene, which provided a clue to the characters' hidden pasts.
  • Pop-Star Composer: Rick Smith of Underworld scored the film.
  • Precision F-Strike: When Simon first returns to his flat and finds it ransacked. It's quite a funny reaction.
  • Pretty Boy: Simon is boyishly beautiful.
  • Tap on the Head: Strongly averted. Simon is knocked out at the beginning and suffers severe trauma that requires surgery along with what seems to be a lengthy hospital stay. This is before we even get to the amnesia.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Simon gets shot, rammed with a car into another burning car, and is then driven over a pier into the river.


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