(It's been longer than it should have been since my last seen film. In the interval a number have come and gone which I'd like to have seen. A major reason for missing them was preferring not to venture out during our prevailing weather, this having been our coldest March for 50 years, with nightly frosts and daytime temps still scarcely above freezing. And there's still no sign of the end of it!)
Any Danny Boyle film is an 'event' - he of 'Shallow Grave', 'Trainspotting', '28 Days Later', 'Slumdog Millionaire', '127 Hours' as well as, of course, last year's Olympic Games opening ceremony.
This latest of his has had a somewhat cooler reception than some of those I've mentioned, at least among those critics I've seen. I would tend to concur with them.
James McAvoy (of whom, must admit, I'm not particularly an admirer) plays an auctioneer who is involved with a criminal gang to steal a Goya from public auction rooms while an auction is in progress. During the crime he receives a knock on the head which renders him incapable of remembering what he's done with the painting. The gang leader (Vincent Cassel in convincingly 'nasty' mode) after a violent preamble, decides to send him to a hypnotherapist to recover his memory of the object's location.
As so often recently I did find the first 2/3 of this film very entertaining. The premise was simple and unusual. But then the convolutions start, the big revelation being that McAvoy's character's recollection of the crime and the reasons for it were not as he thought they were. The past is re-written in hindsight for his benefit as well as for our own. I suppose the film's intention is to have the audience gasping with the surprises, though I dare say that many people will have guessed the 'biggie' reveal before I did. I just found them increasingly irritating. It's yet another of the spate of films where reality and happenings in the mind are deliberately ambiguous or confused, a feature which has become a bit of a cliche now.
I found the fault of this film lies more with the writers than with Boyle himself, who can be guaranteed to provide slick direction, always with frenetic energy. He's one of those few directors who never bores me. But in this film he's going along with a storyline which I felt that even he was only half-convinced by. (There are, predictably, a number of very violent moments, though all very brief).
A bit of a disappointment, then. As I write this, the average score on IMDb site is 7.7, so clearly many others have a higher opinion of it than I have, my rating being a..................6
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