Brian De Palma (Scarface, Mission Impossible) is back again with his latest film “Passion”. It’s a suspense/thriller in the vein of a Polanski film that meets something modern like “Cruel Intentions”. It stars Rachel McAdams (The Notebook, Red Eye) Noomi Rapace (Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Dead Man Down) and Paul Anderson.
This is a remake of a French film called “Love Crime”. Christine (McAdams) is the head of an advertising campaign. She has a young and talented protegé working for her named Isabelle (Rapace). Christine takes credit for one of Isabelle’s ideas and tells her it’s all part of the game and not to hold a grudge. Isabelle sets out to make her own decisions and better her career, which causes Christine to get very jealous. What start’s as a little friendly competition turns into public humiliation and eventually murder.
I never saw the original French version of the film but I had read a lot of mixed reviews about this remake. I like both actresses and I think they were cast well for their respective parts. We don’t get any real introduction to their friendship (I’m sure it’s done on purpose) but they appear to be attracted to each other. There friendship is a very strange one, especially because Christine is in a relationship with Dirk (Anderson). Christine knows that Dirk is cheating on her so she blackmails him into calling his affair off. I think it’s just part of her manipulative personality because she to has several partners. The relationships between the characters were very reminiscent of “Wild Things” or “Cruel Intentions”.
I liked the score. I’m not sure if it was intentional but it sounded very European. Lot’s of classical and piano based instrumentals. I think there was some influence from films like “American Psycho” and some of Polanski’s work like “China Town”. I respect the look of the film too. It’s very artistically shot, a lot of neutral colors. Lots of white and clear glass in the office scenes, everything is very neutral. It reminded me very much of a thriller you would have seen in the 80’s. The acting from both women is quiet good. I think it’s more of a stretch for Rachel to play such a manipulative character. Saying that I really like that she tested herself with the role and got out of her comfort zone of being the “good girl”. I liked it.
The biggest issues with the film are probably the pacing in the middle and the very rushed unclear ending. It wasn’t ambiguous, it was just downright confusing. The opening act moves quite quickly but the middle lags. We get several sub-plots involving embezzlement, insider trading and a jealous secretary. I suppose the latter comes back around in the final act, so that’s okay. Most of the film contains little or no suspense, which was very disappointing. After all that’s what I thought I was going to get, there was plenty of potential to add a Hitchcock vibe built with pure tension but it never happened. Every other move the story took was predictable and unoriginal. The mask that was used in the “murder” scene was really creepy, it’s what drew me to the film in the first place. It was only used in one scene to give off a little suspense but it should have been utilized much better.
Moreover, I didn’t like the split screen camera work during the music montage before the supposed murder. I thought it was another example of the film losing complete tone and mood. I was still enjoying the film all the way up to the last fifteen minutes. The last act seemed rushed and unresolved. I can handle ambiguous, something giving you several options and no correct answer can leave lots of room for debate. The end to this film isn’t going to spark debate, most people are just going to want to forget it. It’s not a conventional thriller, it has a European touch to it. I think it’s a little pointless especially with it already being a remake of a European film. I think it attempts to be overly artistic when it just needed to be suspenseful.
What was real?, What wasn’t? Did Catherine have a twin? Did she really die? Was it staged? None of these questions were good ones. All of its issues aside, I still enjoyed it. I just wish the final act could have had more clarity and not been so rushed and of course more of that creepy mask! Suspense is the key Brian.
My rating for “Passion” is 5.5/10