"Schizophrenic Movie Experience"
What You Need To Know:
TRANCE is absorbing and well acted. It’s like a Quentin Tarantino movie, but more focused, less rambling. Sadly, that means it also has an excessive amount of gratuitous offensive content, including graphic sex scenes, bloody violence and nudity. Also, the movie shows that crime can indeed pay. In fact, the characters will do nearly anything, no matter how criminal, to get their hands on the priceless Goya painting. TRANCE may be a superbly crafted thriller, but it’s unacceptable viewing, with no redemptive content.
(PaPaPa, LLL, VVV, SSS, NNN, A, DD, MMM) Very strong pagan worldview about a gang of thieves who backstab and trick each other, with the ends justifying the means; 31 or so obscenities and profanities; extreme and strong violence includes man gets his fingernails pulled out graphically as he screams and drips blood (as torture to extract information), beating and shooting guards and police while an art heist is committed, tear-gassing an auction house to drive out people so that art can be stolen, car crashes and property damage caused by high-speed driving getaway, flashback footage of a man threatening and hitting his girlfriend, woman has bruises on her face and may have been raped, man pours gasoline and sets it aflame in the hopes of killing the other man, car catches flame and then is shoved into a body of water by the fire-starter’s vehicle as the fire-starter hopes to drown his partner-turned-nemesis, and a highly violent climax and finale where two master thieves face off shooting and beating each other over a highly valuable painting they stole; extreme sexual content contains numerous nude sex scenes including and plus depicted nude kissing, depicted fornication, implied possible rape; full frontal female nudity in a couple scenes, upper and rear female nudity, upper and rear male nudity, images of nude paintings; alcohol use; no smoking but a verbal reference to buying illegal drugs; and, lies, deceptions, double-crosses, and revenge among the various characters, stealing, art theft, gambling, and a character makes it clear they’re keeping a stolen painting rather than taking it back to authorities.
TRANCE is a driving, highly inventive thriller about a gang of thieves who backstab and trick each other and a mysterious hypnotist after a high-stakes art heist. TRANCE has a strong pagan worldview where the characters get to keep the multimillion dollar painting they stole. It also has an excessive amount of gratuitous offensive content. Apparently, the filmmakers wanted to go out of their way to offend mainstream moviegoers, and also not make very much money!
The movie opens with narration by Simon (James McAvoy), as he recounts his part in a spectacularly planned art heist of a Goya painting worth more than $20 million. However, when Simon’s knocked out by gang leader, Franck (Vincent Cassel), as part of the getaway plan, he winds up having amnesia and can’t recall where he hid the painting.
This leads Simon to be tortured by his gang as they pull out his fingernails. He then offers to see a hypnotist he knows, in the hope they can jog his memory and help him find the painting. The hypnotist, a beautiful woman named Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson), figures out Simon’s endangered. She offers to help him find the painting and escape the gang. However, when Elizabeth meets Franck, she starts to believe Franck is, in fact, the nicer man.
From there, the twists keep coming, and TRANCE exerts a strong pull on viewers eager to see how the story’s resolved. Director Danny Boyle has returned to his hard-edged crime-story roots (SHALLOW GRAVE, TRAINSPOTTING) in TRANCE, after a string of movies with strong elements of faith or uplift in them (SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE and 127 HOURS).
TRANCE is very close in spirit to the time-bending, complex, violent narratives of fellow filmmaker Quentin Tarantino (PULP FICTION and DJANGO UNCHAINED) but it’s more focused and assured than Tarantino’s sprawling works. It moves dramatically from its first moment to the last. It also offers a fascinating look at the practice of hypnotism, and whether it works or not. The actors, especially Dawson and McAvoy, deliver multilayered performances that cover the emotional bases with ease.
All this makes the movie’s excessive content even more disappointing. Also, the fact that it centers on people who will do nearly anything, no matter how criminal, to get their hands on an expensive painting renders TRANCE to be a largely amoral and immoral enterprise. Along the way, viewers are subjected to excessive amounts of foul language, violence, sex, and nudity. TRANCE may be a superbly crafted thriller, but it’s unacceptable viewing, with excessively obscene, violent content.