The Curator

Danny Boyle, Director of 'Trance,' On His Favorite Psychological Thrillers

The Oscar-winning director writes about the films that inspired his latest film, ‘Trance,’ in theaters April 5.

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Lots of people describe Trance as a psychological thriller but in truth it borrows from many different thriller subgenres. There is a heist motif running through the film and an amnesia motif and a noirish femme fatale motif too. But these are just MacGuffins: The film is not about stolen paintings, but stolen memories. It’s not about amnesia but, rather, repression and denial: ‘forgetting’ as a behavioral choice. And as for our ‘femme fatale’, well let’s just say it’s complicated…

… Here are some great movies that we remembered never to forget while making Trance:


A delicious, dark spin on the amnesia device: “Memory can change the shape of a room; it can change the color of a car. And memories can be distorted. They’re just an interpretation, they’re not a record, and they’re irrelevant if you have facts” - great lines from a great film by a great filmmaker.


Is the Femme Fatale a paranoid male fantasy? The sexually voracious alpha-female who seduces and then consumes her quarry? Perhaps, but Lawrence Kasdan’s film remains a steamy classic and Kathleen Turner the most bewitching of screen femmes.


The great photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson said, “In a portrait I am looking for the silence in somebody” and this masterful portrait of a heist takes place in near-silence too. So quiet you can hear the sound of your hair growing.


I have a theory: your first film is always your best film. OK more provocative than accurate but if you were highly suggestible I'm sure I could sit you down, say relax, and convince you. I'd start with these two debuts from the best filmmakers around. What better proof could there be?


Not just one of his films but all of them from Performance through to Eureka. They are in a category all their own. Einstein said, “The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.” Roeg, typical iconoclast that he is, confounds this. His time past and time future are all available as time present.