Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
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.
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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 open wounds.

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.
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