Olympic star Danny Boyle steers an 'evil twin' course
05:00 AM, Apr 04, 2013
NEW YORK Danny Boyle, the Oscar-winning director of 2008’s best-picture victor Slumdog Millionaire, may have turned down the offer to add a “Sir” before his name as reward for conjuring the triumphant whiz-bang multimedia salute to Britain’s pop-cultural heritage that opened the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
But the self-declared “Marlon Brando of knighthood” has been granted a less formal title by the British press: National Treasure. That’s what you get for allowing the citizenry to take pride in their country’s contributions to the world, ranging from the suffragette movement and National Health Service to Mary Poppins and Mr. Bean.
Such an avuncular label is certainly at odds with Boyle’s current film, Trance, which opens Friday. The twisty-turny art-heist caper tucked inside psychological thriller is anything but wholesome with its trippy dips into hypnotic states, outbursts of gruesome violence and one character’s strange distaste for female body hair.
The media might just as well refer to him as an old tea cozy, judging from his averse reaction upon hearing the label.
“It’s funny,” says Boyle, 56, who also found time last year to squeeze in a West End stage production of Frankenstein, whose stars, those dueling TV Sherlocks Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller, took turns playing the mad scientist and his monster.”They put a spotlight on you to make it look like you are different and you’re not. I was very proud to do it and I understand the restrictions of it. But it was lovely to do Trance and Frankenstein at the same time. They are like the evil twin of the Olympic ceremony. It’s the darker, more disturbing relatives in your family.”
Yes, the warped mind who gave us the morally corrupted yuppies of 1994’s Shallow Grave and the rancid gang of Scottish heroin addicts in 1996’s Trainspotting is up to his old tricks. Instead of a heroic survivalist tale like Boyle’s previous effort, 127 Hours,Trance features a seemingly victimized art auctioneer suffering from amnesia (James McAvoy), a sour-puss vicious gangster (Vincent Cassel) and an coolly seductive hypnotherapist (Rosario Dawson), all seeking the location of a stolen painting. None would qualify as upstanding citizens.
“The pleasure I took in the darkness of Trance and the complicatedness of it as it makes demands on the audience to follow it and piece it together, I did enjoy it,” he says. “Obviously, you can’t do that with the Olympics. It’s simple brush strokes and it has to be family-friendly. “
For those looking for clues to figuring out the puzzle that recalls such brain teasers as Memento and Inception, Boyle offers, “It is chopped, but it is really built on a series of trances. There really are three, or four or five depending on how you interpret it.” For those who get lost in the maze of the plot, however, he reassures, “There will be a chronological-order version on the DVD.”