Trance most crucially lacks, however, is a sense of cohesion.
There's more (equally convoluted) back-story than there is plot. The push and pull of abused and abuser stretches the drama thin, and although the construction of Simon as a character is fascinating, the way the characters behave becomes increasingly difficult to reconcile. The puzzle that the film comprises is built to house an emptiness. Throw in the film's confused approach to nudity - at one point Dawson strips herself bare, yet when Cassel or McAvoy appear in the buff, shot composition contrives to spare their modesty - and Trance seems worryingly short on the things which really matter: it's intense, but not engaging; smart but not intelligent; lacking in anything significant worth saying or feeling.
Boyle's famed high energy, speedy filmmaking feels stuck in overdrive throughout. Trance gallops along without pausing for breath, barely allowing space for any emotional moment to resonate before hurrying along to the next scene. The three central performers are all commendable, but that can't save Trance from itself. It's a far more interesting piece of work than Boyle's 2008 Oscar winner Slumdog Millionaire, but it is nasty - at times exhilaratingly so - and bitter. A frustrating, slightly disappointing effort from the Radcliffe-born filmmaker.