Trance | 2013
What starts out as a conventional heist movie takes a left turn when a blow to the head leaves inside man, and unreliable narrator, Simon (James McAvoy) unable to remember where he stashed a valuable stolen Goya painting.
The film is made almost entirely in London, but you won’t find a ‘Delancy’s’ auction house in the city.
The sale room, where Goya’s Witches In The Air is put up for sale, is the circular Rotunda ballroom of the London Film Museum in County Hall on the South Bank, with its striking painted ceiling and marble pillars. County Hall is a pretty adaptable location – its entrance lobby appearing in both Mission: Impossible and Kick-Ass.
The tiled vault beneath, in which Simon gets the unexpected whack on the head, is the basement of the Victoria And Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, South Kensington SW7.
‘Delancy’s’ rear exit, outside which Riz traps the armed guard inside their own security van with a dinky little pink SVG-Wiz, is the V&A Museum’s gated Trade Entrance on Thurloe Place, to the right of the Main Entrance.
The grand front entrance of the auction house is a screen regular, the National Liberal Club, 1 Whitehall Place SW1, on the corner of Whitehall Court. It’s just a few doors down from 4 Whitehall Court, which became the hotel in Stephen Frears’s Dirty Pretty Things, and only a short walk from the entrance to the ‘Ministry Of Magic’ on Great Scotland Yard in Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix.
Being in west London, the Central Middlesex doesn’t have a view of St Paul’s Cathedral. When Franck consults a doctor about Simon’s amnesia, the glass walled setting is the top floor Restaurant above Tate Modern on Bankside.
Simon soon realises he’s got problems when he arrives back to find his flat has been ransacked. His apartment is in Elektron Tower, 12 Blackwall Way, London E14, which looms over East India Station on the elevated Docklands Light Railway.
Keen for him to reveal the whereabouts of the stolen painting, Simon’s criminal associates attempt to jog his memory by removing his fingernails in the Millennium Mills, a derelict early 20th Century flour mill in West Silvertown, opposite City Airport. The currently abandoned complex is another location used in Terry Gilliam’s Brazil as well as Derek Jarman’s The Last Of England. Hey, there are even remnants from a Coldplay video on the walls.
It seems that Simon’s amnesia is all too real, requiring the intervention of a hypnotherapist, Elizabeth Lamb (Rosario Dawson) to probe the recesses of his mind. Sometimes, only the best will do, so it’s off to Harley Street W1, the prestigious centre of London’s private medicine business (remember Mr Bridger arriving here from gaol for a check-up in The Italian Job?). In this film, Elizabeth’s practice is given the unfeasibly high number ‘245’. In fact, it’s 6 Harley Street, just north of Cavendish Place.
It doesn’t take a trained hypnotist long to figure out there’s something fishy going on and Elizabeth meets up with the gang’s leader Franck (Vincent Cassel) in the pleasant surroundings of Yauatcha, 15-17 Broadwick Street at Berwick Street, W1, which describes itself as a contemporary Chinese dim sum teahouse, in the heart of Soho.
Claiming an equal percentage of the deal, Elizabeth agrees to help rescue the venture. ‘Analog London’, the deserted club in which she hypnotises Simon, is famed dance venue, the Ministry Of Sound, 103 Gaunt Street, Elephant and Castle, SE1. The famous venue also provided the red lit passage way into Franck’s flat (which itself was a studio set). The club was featured a few years ago in little-seen druggie thriller Sorted, with Matthew Rhys, and in the big-screen version of TV series The Inbetweeners.
The giant cockroach you can glimpse in the club can usually be seen bringing a little joy to Shoreditch EC2, on the rooftop of 8 Great Eastern Street at Shoreditch High Street. It’s just a little northwest of the Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane at Hanbury Street E1, which supplied the nightclub’s rooftop and a great view of the spire of Christ Church Spitalfields. The ten-acre arts and media complex is now home to a hive of creative businesses as well as independent shops, galleries, markets, bars and restaurants.
Under hypnosis, Simon finds himself driving through the French countryside to a strange gallery of ‘lost’ paintings. The fantasy is the only sequence filmed outside France, in France, where the art repository is Notre Dame Du Haut, a modernist church designed in 1954 by influential architect Le Corbusier, at Ronchamp, a few miles northwest of Belfort in eastern France.
As befits a successful Harley Street practitioner, Elizabeth lives in a smart section of southwest London between Gloucester Road and Earl’s Court. Once again, her flat is a studio set but the exterior, entrance lobby and lift are 69 Courtfield Gardens, SW5.
Simon confusedly recalls a dinner date with Elizabeth in Roast, a restaurant housed in the elaborate iron and glass portico on Stoney Street SE1, above Borough Market, south of the Thames, near London Bridge Station.
Borough Market is, of course, featured in Bridget Jones’s Diary – and the entrance to ‘The Leaky Cauldron’ in Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban can also be found on Stoney Street. Opposite the restaurant is Park Street – a much-used location seen in Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels and Howards End.
Simon also begins to retrieve fragmented memories of being hit by a car after the robbery – a scene filmed on the southeast side of West Smithfield EC1, outside St Bartholomew’s Hospital. The car park entrance in the centre of West Smithfield was the entrance to the MI6 backup HQ in Skyfall.
This eventually leads to the red Alfa Romeo, containing a bootload of disturbing secrets, parked in Hyde Park car park, near to the Marble Arch entrance.
It’s back to Millennium Mills for the finale, with the car set alight and plunging into the murky water of the Thames.
• Many thanks to Alexander for help with this section.