Last night, while introducing the Cinema Society and Montblanc's premiere of his new film Trance, director Danny Boyle issued a preemptive apology to anyone in the audience who had come to the screening expecting "a life-affirming film like Slumdog Millionaire or 127 Hours." This one, he explained, wouldn't be like that.
To be properly prepared for Trance—though we're not sure it's possible to be properly prepared—you'd do better to remember that Boyle also directed Trainspotting. Trance, likewise, is a stylish thriller that runs the gamut from very sexy to deeply unsettling. The film stars James McAvoy as Simon, an employee at a fine-art auction house (the fictional "Delancy's," whose signage is rendered in an awfully familiar font) who pulls off the inside-job heist of a Goya that's just sold for $27 million—but then, during his getaway, suffers a blow to the head that renders him unable to remember where he stashed the painting. With the rest of the gang involved in the theft, led by a menacing Vincent Cassel, growing impatient, Simon resorts to hypnotherapy, administered by the beautiful Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson) to try to jog his memory. As the plot dodges and weaves forward, the line between Simon's waking life and trance states is blurred, and secrets emerge that overshadow even the theft of a $27 million painting.
Before the film started, Cassel told us he's not personally much of an art collector. "I just don't collect! Some people like to have things with them, and I move all the time, and usually, when I move, I don't bring anything with me," he said. "I totally realize what it's like, what it is, but I don't feel like I need to possess it. I go to museums! I like a lot of things in the Louvre—I was working there when I was much younger. I was guarding, at night, so I had the opportunity to hang out a lot at the Louvre."
Boyle, who named prints of photographs by Sebastião Selgado and Leigh Miller as art he's proud to own, came out of the process of making Trance a believer in the power of hypnosis—for some, at least. "It's clear that there are different levels—people barely go into it at all, people clearly stay in the room, and they're not going to do anything they don't want to do, and they're relaxed, but they're awake. But there are a small amount of people—five to 10 percent, supposedly; nobody's quite sure how much—who are highly suggestible," he said. "And it's true, when they do it; it's not fake. It is happening, and those people are lost for that moment. So it is a very powerful tool, actually."
For her part, Dawson said she hadn't heard any going-under stories from the hypnotherapists she consulted while preparing for her role; apparently, something like doctor-patient confidentiality prevented them from sharing. "Luckily!" Dawson laughed. "Otherwise, I'd be totally exposed, because apparently my subconscious was speaking very loudly."
Among those doing their best to pick each other's brains over Grey Goose cocktails at the after-party, held at a stunning, glass-walled private penthouse triplex at 497 Greenwich Street currently on the market for $14 million, were Debbie Harry, Norman Reedus, and Jemima Kirke—the three of whom whom we noticed deep in conversation near the heat-lamps warming the roof—as well as Marina Abramović (who had her hair up in severely symmetrical Princess Leia buns), Klaus Biesenbach, Josh Lucas, Patrick Stewart, Olivier Theyskens, and Paul Banks. —Alexandria Symonds