It's going to be a good day, at least in
theory, because director Brian DePalma, one of our personal
favorites, is back and he's giving us an erotic
thriller. The man who gave us such classics as 'Blow
Out', 'Dressed to Kill' and 'Body Double' has returned and we
are happy. Until, of course, we saw Mr. DePalma's latest
film 'Passion' and now we're not as happy anymore. A
friend of mine told me that one of the reasons she gets along
so well in life is because she has such low expectations of
just about everything. This could be one of the reasons
why she allows me to be her friend. This is just to make
note that either my expectations for 'Passion' were just too
high, or maybe it was really just a lousy movie.
Christine (Rachel McAdams) is the head of some advertising
agency in Germany I think, and she is lounging in her sweet
apartment with her protégé Isabelle (Noomi Rapace) as they
enjoy some fancy drinks while working on an ad campaign.
Uh oh… they're getting a little close… it's about to get
steamy… ah… no it's not. We're going to go ahead at this
point and drop the word 'erotic' off of this and just call it
a thriller. There's a chance we might be dropping
'thriller' as well, but we will continue on. One of the
reasons Christine and Isabelle couldn't go at it right then is
because Christine's boyfriend Dirk (Paul Anderson) dropped by
and he and Christine started making out instead.
Besides, it doesn't look like Isabelle is into girls.
Later that evening Isabelle gets a brainstorm on how to fix
this campaign that they are working on, calls her assistant
Dani (Karoline Herfurth) and they make the most amazing
commercial the cell phone industry has ever seen. So
impressed with this ad, Caroline sends Isabelle to somewhere
in Europe to pitch it to the client and all is well.
What? What's Dirk doing there? What?
Isabelle and Dirk are getting down? Isabelle might not
like girls, but she is down with Other People's Property.
Thing is Caroline could probably care less
about that. Caroline is just trying to get promoted out
of Germany and back to New York, and that means taking credit
for Isabelle's work. It's just business. Isabelle
can't really have her doing this so she goes behind Caroline's
back and takes credit right back. The bad thing about
this, for Isabelle at least, is that by doing this she's
jumped in the water with a shark, and she forgot to check for
Caroline plays dirty with poor Isabelle. Really
dirty. Isabelle is ill equipped to play this game on
this level. Or is she? All we can tell you is that
something really bad is about to happen and Isabelle might've
have done this thing. Or maybe she didn't. Or
maybe she did. Regardless, it's official, we are now
lifting the word 'Thriller' off of this movie as well.
True enough, I didn't care for Mr. DePalma's film 'Passion',
ultimately finding it to be meandering, pandering, a little
silly and ultimately ludicrous… but 'Passion' is undeniably a
Brian DePalma movie. The style, the look, the feel, the
odd camera angles, the languid pacing, the ambiguity of it
all… no doubt about it, and as far creating a film that looks
and feels just about right, I'd almost say that Mr. DePalma
has returned to his classic form. That's a good thing,
but my goodness is the narrative a messy one.
I'm told that this is a remake of the French thriller 'Love
Crimes', which I'm also told wasn't all of that to begin with,
much less deserving of an English language remake, but here it
is. One of the main issues I guess I had with 'Passion',
and fully recognizing Rachel McAdams to be one of the easiest
people on the planet Earth to look at, she seemed grossly
miscast in this role. Too young, too cute, and not
nearly sleazy enough. If one is making an erotic
thriller, then one kind of needs your actresses to buy in, say
like Melanie Griffiths in DePalma's Body Double. Now
that's committing to a role. Noomi Rapace was fine as
the victim in this movie, if not a bit hysterical at times,
and Karoline Herfurth as the third point in our sordid
triangle at least was not a distraction.
The thing is, even if Rachel McAdams had nailed the role of
Christine or even if DePalma had convinced someone more age
appropriate… say Meryl Streep… these actresses still would be
dealing with a narrative that is messy at best, and completely
incomprehensible at worst. I get that 'Passion' is
designed to be a mind bending mystery thriller and the goal is
to keep the audience on its toes at all times, but writer
still has to give this audience a path. The best of the
genre draws the audience in slowly, giving them bits here and
bits there, and then pulls the rug out of from under
them. Those who were really paying attention will still
be standing when that rug gets pulled out, the rest of us,
hopefully will just have our mind blown and be amazed.
'Passion' doesn't give the audience a rug, and really leaves
the audience splashing in the water as the story devolves
deeper and deeper into the cracks of inanity, before becoming
completely ludicrous by the third act. I'm still not
completely sure what happened. But here's the real
problem… I'm not upset about that because I don't care.
I mean I am upset that I wasn't entertained by one of my
favorite film directors returning to a genre he's shown in the
past to be a master of, but I'm not upset that I didn't get
'Passion'. I'm just glad it ended. That, my
friends, is disappointment personified.