Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Trance Movie Poster Image
Mind-bending thriller is excessive and violent but artful.
  • R
  • 2013
  • 104 minutes

Parents say

age 18+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The only possible worthwhile takeaway is the warning to never abuse your partner.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Not much role model behavior in this movie, but it does prove that everyone is more complicated than they seem. A thief is more than a thief, and people can be more manipulative than you imagine.


Frequent violence, including scenes of torture (nails being torn off, limbs being broken) that are both real and imagined (under hypnosis). Characters are shot, beaten, burned, hit by a car, and killed. The body count is less than 10, but the deaths/murders are all shown. There are also flashbacks to domestic violence and possessive behavior between lovers.


Full-frontal female nudity, at least two fairly graphic sex scenes, skinny dipping, a discussion of pubic hair (or lack thereof), and a few more passionate kisses, as well as a few dating scenes.


Frequent strong language includes "f--k," "a--hole," "bitch," and more.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink and smoke socially; a man acts drugged, but he's really hypnotized.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Trance is, like director Danny Boyle's earlier films Trainspotting and 28 Days Later, not for younger viewers. Although it has drawn comparisons to Inception and Memento, this thriller has more sex (including sexual full-frontal nudity) and grisly violence (torture, heads blown up, an innocent person killed) than either of those films. The language is standard for an R-rated movie ("f--k," "s--t," "assh--e"), but it's the frank sex scenes and the cringe-inducing violence (which also includes domestic abuse) throughout that makes this one for very mature teens and adults only.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byjoshua martinez August 23, 2013

17 and up.

this thriller movie trance is a disappointing movie and a twist with a confusing plot of the story this thriller movie is not for young kids parents beware that... Continue reading
Adult Written byMiss_JayKay April 6, 2013

Not worth seeing

Me and my Mom went to see this film for free with virgin media, im so glad it was free as it was not worth paying to watch. The characters had no morals and the... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written bySean Broucek August 4, 2013


Parents, your teens may want to see this new "Inception-style" thriller starring James McAvoy And Rosario Dawson, but the strong sexual content and hy... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old July 24, 2013

Really clever film that desereves more attetion

One of those films that will stay in the back of your mind, really clever psychological thriller, hard to understand at some points.

What's the story?

Simon (James McAvoy) is the second in command at a posh London auction house that's selling Goya's "Witches in the Air," which is worth 25 million pounds. With gambling debts to repay, Simon collaborates with a small clique of thieves led by French gangster Franck (Vincent Cassel) to steal the precious painting. But blunt trauma from the heist leaves Simon without any memory of where he stashed the painting (Franck realizes all he stole was a frame and nothing more). Desperate for answers, Franck demands that Simon see a hypnotherapist, Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson). During their sessions, Elizabeth figures out there's something more going on, and she soon becomes a partner in the enterprise to unlock Simon's memory and find the Goya. The problem is, the more Simon is under the influence of hypnotherapy, the more he becomes obsessed with Elizabeth -- and the less he can distinguish the truth from his trance.

Is it any good?

TRANCE isn't for the faint of heart or those who are disturbed by graphic violence and sex, but fans of Boyle's grittier work will feel right at home with the twisty thriller. After the introspective, one-man show that was 127 Hours, director Danny Boyle returns to his love of artfully crafted, dizzyingly edited stories with enough twists to figuratively make an audience's heads explode. This is part art-heist flick like The Thomas Crown Affair, part mind-bending thriller like Inception or Memento, and part good, old-fashioned revenge story. Some of the plot developments will be too much and are bound to divide viewers between those who find them exciting and those who find them ridiculously excessive (like a pivotal conversation about the inclusion of pubic hair in religious art).

Somehow Boyle makes most of it work, in good part because of McAvoy's boyish but fierce charm, the pulsing techno score (from Rick Smith of Underworld), and the fabulous visuals (which contain clever clues about when a trance is taking place). At first Dawson seems miscast in the role of the hypnotherapist, but she manages to take control (in more ways than one) of her central part in a surprising way.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Trance's use of violence. When was it stylized, and when was it realistic? Could you tell the difference between the hypnosis-induced violence and the "real" violence?

  • Were the plot twists and the hypnosis theme confusing for you as a viewer, or did they add to the excitement? Which moments surprised you the most?

  • This is the kind of movie where a spoiler could ruin your experience as a viewer. How do you handle talking about movies with big twists?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love thrills

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