Posted on April 11, 2013 at 6:00 pm

Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for sexual content, graphic nudity, violence, some grisly images, and language
Profanity: Very strong language
Alcohol/ Drugs: Drinking
Violence/ Scariness: Violence and peril with guns, fire, chases, car accident, taser, choking, and torture, some very disturbing images, characters injured and killed, graphic wounds, dead bodies
Diversity Issues: Diverse characters
Date Released to Theaters: April 12, 2013
Date Released to DVD: July 22, 2013 ASIN: B00D3DJI3Q

Before he was the establishment figure who won Oscars for prestige projects (“Slumdog Millionaire”) and masterminded the fabulous opening ceremonies for the London Olympics that had the Queen and James Bond jumping out of a plane, Danny Boyle was a skillful director of highly styled and deliciously nasty films about not-so-deliciously nasty people doing dreadful things (“Trainspotting” and “Shallow Grave”).  His latest is “Trance,” a deliciously nasty heist film about the theft of a 27 million dollar masterpiece by Goya, tellingly titled Witches in the Air, and about the mistrust and betrayal that comes next.

Part of the fun comes from having our assumptions turned upside down — and then inside out.  So I don’t want to give too much away.  The title comes from a hypno-therapist named Elizabeth (the stunningly beautiful Rosario Dawson),  brought into the den of thieves because one of them has misplaced the painting and, thanks to a head injury, cannot remember where he stashed it.  The problem faced by alpha-thief Franck (ferret-like Vincent Cassel) is how to arrange it so that Elizabeth can get inside the amnesiac’s head to find the missing painting but not let her find that that by doing so she is abetting a rather notorious crime.  Dawson, too often underused, gets a chance to show what she is capable of in a performance of intelligence and subtlety.  As she explained in an interview, “I wanted to be specific on who she was and make her disappear at the same time.”

The film itself becomes a sort of trance, with deeply saturated colors that shimmer like a dream, and Dawson’s magnetic voice.  We, like the characters, must begin to mistrust what we see and what we think we know as the story turns upside down, inside out, and then, as soon as we think we’ve figured it out, Rubik cubes our minds again.  This is a movie you’ll be talking about on the way home, and probably shivering about in your own nightmare.

Parents should know that this film includes sexual references and explicit situations, very explicit nudity, violence including guns, taser, car accident, torture, fire, characters injured and killed, disturbing and graphic images, very strong language

Family discussion: What do the title and subject of the stolen painting have to do with the story? What do you think will happen next?

If you like this, try: “Inside Man” and “Side Effects”

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Crime Drama DVD/Blu-Ray Pick of the Week

18 Replies to “Trance”

  1. I think it’s worthy to note that the “very explicit nudity” is female genital nudity. You do mention “very graphic male nudity” when it’s male, so why not female? (I just didn’t want people to mistakenly think it’s male nudity since that is the more typical kind.) Too bad Hollywood isn’t distributing this film as a wide mainstream release due to this, though it’s a good film even if it didn’t contain nudity.

    1. I don’t agree that male nudity is “more typical” or that my description was inaccurate, but I am sure the additional information you provided will be helpful to those considering whether this movie is right for them. Thanks for writing.

  2. No one was saying your description was inaccurate – it just wasn’t specific enough, unlike how you describe male nudity in films. Wasn’t sure why.

    Also, “topless” shouldn’t be considered nude because for one thing, if a man takes his shirt off, he isn’t considered nude, therefore, the statistics would be skewed in terms of male/female nudity. For another thing, it’s not illegal for women to be topless in public in many parts of the US – most prominent area being New York, where it’s been legal for women to be topless in public since 1992. That’s why male nudity is more “typical” since there is more nude men than nude women in films, certainly in mainstream films rather than, as in this Trance movie, a limited release/independent film.

    1. I believe my use of the terms you wrote about is more consistent with generally accepted definitions than yours, and that is how I will continue to apply them. The portrayal and semiotics of male and female nudity has been thoroughly discussed in previous comments and I am not permitting any further discussion as I believe it has very little to do with advising parents about the content of films and more to do with the fixations of the commenters.

  3. I don’t understand your response. My question was dealing with why when it’s male nudity you describe the film as having “very graphic male nudity” yet when it’s female nudity, you simply describe it as “very explicit nudity”? What I’m saying is that it would make more sense for it to be “very graphic female nudity” instead. (Not sure also why male nudity would be “graphic” while female nudity is “explicit”, where the term “explicit” makes it seem more pornographic-like in the description).

    This is just mere questioning of these terms used, and how you define them, not a critique of your review (plus, as you stated, my specifically mentioning what the “very explicit nudity” was in the film would better convey to a reader whether this film would be for them to watch or not).

    1. You are making too much of the difference between “explicit” and “graphic.” I use both to mean that you can see a fully naked person. I do not think anyone is in any doubt about what it means. I think you are missing the forest, so to speak, for the trees.

  4. Fair enough, but that doesn’t answer my question as to why male nudity needs to be specified as “very graphic male nudity” while female nudity is defined in more broad terms – “very explicit nudity.” If there was also a nude male in this film, then it would make sense. I’m not saying people will misunderstand that it means a fully naked person, but specifying “male” for example means a fully naked man, whereas using the broad definition makes it seem more like both fully naked male and female (which is how I interpreted it when I first read your review).

    I wasn’t certain if this was purposely omitted, or if you accidentally forgot to specify it, or there was some other reason, which is why I asked. That’s all. Thank you for your responses, by the way.

    1. Actually, I have answered your question, as you will see if you read my response carefully. I don’t agree with the anatomical or definitional distinctions you are trying to draw.

  5. You stated that your definition is consistent with generally accepted definitions, but according to whom? I still don’t understand why male nudity needs to be specified while female nudity should be generalized, and where this all of a sudden became the standard. Forgive me if I’m misunderstanding you, but I do not know why one gender should be specified, while the other shouldn’t, afterall what harm is there to give more specific and accurate information to a reader?

    1. According to the dictionary and conventional usage. Your attempted distinction is distorted and artificial. This is not one of those sites that goes into intensive detail about which anatomical parts are shown; they have a different purpose and you can find them easily. This is a site that advises parents and other interested audience members about the content of films so they can make choices that suit their taste and values. You can look into my discussions with previous commenters about the semiotics of male and female nudity in movies; I have nothing more to add. The language I used provided that information and was both specific and accurate. Those people who do not want to see movies with nudity will know they should avoid it. Those who do will know where to go.

  6. So are you suggesting that the general discription for female nudity is used so as to not alert a reader that it is female nudity? Or is the specification of male nudity used to alert a reader that the movie contains male nudity? Why would one be worse than the other? Also, whether or not you had discussions with other commenters regarding male/female nudity shouldn’t dictate how much or how little your description of the nudity is. I don’t believe your general description regarding female nudity was accurate – as I mentioned when I read your review, I thought the nudity was both female AND male, even though there was only female, having now seen the movie.

    In other words:

    “very graphic male nudity” = fully nude male

    “very explicit nudity” = fully nude male or fully nude female or both?

    Specifying the nudity hardly goes into “intensive” detail and if it did, why then specify male nudity?

    I’m sorry, I’m just not understanding this, as it seems like there is some underlying reason for specifying/not specifying nudity based on the gender involved, and you are not saying why. At least, that’s the vibe I’m getting from this.

    1. You are reading much more into what you perceive as a distinction than is warranted or appropriate.

  7. I agree that Guest’s views and assumptions are invalid. Your review of The Master proves it. Furthermore, you are not a reviewer for Mr. Skin, so your descriptions are plenty thorough and accurate.

    I have read your opinions on male and female nudity. It would further my understanding, or at least clarify it, if you could relate them to this movie. Do you think this film’s female nudity make it inappropriate for an R rating?

    1. Thanks, you made my point better than I did. I think an R rating is the right one for this movie.

  8. What in the world does Mr. Skin have to do with this? For the same reason why male nudity is specified (to give readers a more accurate description of what is depicted) it would make the exact same sense to specify female nudity when it’s female. Coming up with excuses (like the Mr. Skin excuse) further validates the theory that there is some underlying – perhaps gender related – reason as to why female nudity should not be specified, while male nudity should be.

    1. Mr. Skin and I have different purposes and audiences and thus different levels of specificity. Within the context of an R-rated movie, the term “explicit nudity” is as clear as it needs to be for my readers. No one who sees the movie will disagree with the accuracy of that description — except for the Mr. Skin types who are watching the movie for a purpose that is unrelated to the concerns I address. You are fixating on a distinction that does not merit that level of scrutiny, so I cannot allow you to post any further comments on this topic.

  9. If “explicit nudity” is as clear as you say it is, then why do you specify “male” nudity when it is male? Why can’t “explicit nudity” be used for male nudity the way it is used for female nudity? That’s been the question all along yet you refuse to answer it. What this has to do with Mr. Skin, I have no idea.

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