Trance Movie Poster Image




Mind-bending thriller is excessive and violent but artful.
  • Review Date: April 3, 2013
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 104 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

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

Positive role models

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.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

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

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.

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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:April 5, 2013
DVD release date:July 23, 2013
Cast:James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson, Vincent Cassel
Director:Danny Boyle
Studio:Fox Searchlight
Run time:104 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:sexual content, graphic nudity, violence, some grisly images, and language

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What parents and kids say

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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 hypnotic torture sequences makes this adults-only. Violence includes frequent torture scenes (amputated fingers, limbs broken), shootings, burnings, car crashes, an attempted rape, on-screen murders/deaths, domestic violence, incest, abuse, and a decapitation. Sex includes full-frontal female nudity (breasts, buttocks, genitals, pubic hair), two graphic sex scenes, an attempted rape (tearing clothes and screaming can be heard), skinny dipping, incest and passionate kissing. Language includes frequent uses of f--k, s--t, b-tch & a--hole. In the end, this great and poignant movie is best left for adults. SUGGESTED MPAA RATING: Rated R For Strong Sexual Content Including Graphic Nudity, Language Throughout, Graphic Violent Material Including Some Grisly Images, And Torture.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
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 other families should know
Too much sex
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 there was unnecessary nudity and language. the story was hard to follow and had a disturbing ending. there is too much violence for children i even had to look away the red-band trailer gives yo a good idea of what will happen in the film but i would not recommend this film.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex


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