Passion simultaneously parodies its plot while elevating it to a strangely involving exercise in cinematic drama. The filmmaker has either lost control of the material or maintains the same calculation of his protagonists. But the entertainment value associated with that uncertainty is the essence of his career.
Passion is a really good movie. I haven't seen the original which is a french film but Passion was great. The plot and the whole idea were really smart. Noomi Rapace was something more than excellent and Rachel McAdams was really good too. I haven't watched any other Brian de Palma film but as I saw in Passion he must be really good. I also liked the cinematography and the whole atmosphere was totally like watching a thriller. Though it could have a bigger "twist", Passion entertains and it will surely make some people feel disturbed. A really really good movie with an excellent cast!
As with many of Brian De Palma's films - especially those released in the 21st Century - Passion was, well, divisive upon release. A remake of a French film, many critics derided this one as self-indulgent, trashy, and an imitation of De Palma's own work. While admittedly a bit self-indulgent and poorly plotted, Passion is just so much fun to experience and to see, it is hard not to champion it as unfairly maligned. Sure, it is exclusively style over substance, but never has style looked so good as in De Palma's Passion. Toying with ideas he has introduced before, Passion is a film about manipulation, power, dominance, and sex. Even more, it continues to show how influenced by Hitchcock this man is with a focus towards the end of pulling of the "perfect murder". A major theme in some of Hitchcock's works such as Shadow of a Doubt and Dial M for Murder, the same appears in this film. Even better, many of De Palma's trademark shots, such as split screens and oblique angles make triumphant appearances in this film. Maybe this one is not for everybody, but since I happen to love the work of De Palma, I ate this one up with a spoon.
One of the best elements of this film is how it crafts its perfect murder. Not revealing its tricks until the very end, even the audience is fooled in this one as De Palma uses his split-screen to manipulate and confuse the audience. On one side, we see Isabelle James (Noomi Rapace) at the ballet. On the other, we see Christine Stanford (Rachel McAdams) at home. The split-screen in this film is particularly great as Isabelle's side slides onto the frame and Christine's slides off and then back on. As magnificently choreographed as always, De Palma adds another wrinkle by using voyeurism in Christine's side. With her walking around a hallway in her home and being peered at through a small gap in a door, we see just through the gap with black all around. A point of view shot in this instance, it also serves to obscure who is there with her and further confuse and mislead the audience. Though we know who we can rule out, it hardly limits the options and has the ability to keep the audience continuously on edge. This may be a bit of fan service and self-indulgent as he emulates some of his best works in this moment, but it is not ineffective. Just because it is a trademark does not make it wrong and I love the split-screens in his films with this scene being an example of why. Tense, thrilling, and keeping the audience completely on edge, this is a great example of why it is a terrific tool.
De Palma is also known for his oblique angles at times and Passion features a lot of them. Many times, they can be a bit more subtle, but here they take center stage. As things begin to spiral out of control at the office. Showing the balance of power in certain scenes, one of my favorites is an oblique angle shot of Christine's offices. With shadows pouring into the room, Christine's back is to us as Isabelle's walks into the office. Not expecting the cold response from Christine, scene is chilly and uncomfortable, in large part because of the shot. Every scene with an oblique angle shot, such as the sexual harassment scene between Christine and Dani (Karoline Herfurth), are unsettling. While occasionally thrilling in these moments, they are mostly just hard to watch and a brilliant piece of filmmaking. Of course, these scenes are also bolstered by the use of shadows. Often used to trap in characters, many characters are trapped here, both literally and figuratively. Christine is trapped by Isabelle. Isabelle is trapped by Dani. The inspector is trapped by lies. Dirk Harriman (Paul Anderson) is trapped by Christine and Isabelle. Shadows and bars adorn them all and lock them up in their visual prison before some of them wind up in actual prison. Along with the split-screens and oblique angles, the shadows bless Passion with an incredible visual style.
An erotic thriller, Passion may not be one of De Palma's best works, but its aesthetic is undeniable. Though its substance pales in comparison to those in his best works, the plot is still quite compelling and twisty, even if it makes very little sense and has major plotholes. The plot also suffers from an overreliance on dream sequences and fake outs that hurt the suspense and thrills, rather than fostering either. Yet, the camera work here is tremendous and the more I watch De Palma's films, the more I have come to appreciate that his style and camera movements are the main draw of his films, not necessarily just the plot. Passion is the epitome of this, hence its negative reception. Thus, for those who enjoy De Palma and his trademarks as a director, Passion should exceed expectations.
The movie is one long game of misdirection, playing tricks on viewers from scene to scene, and showing how easy it is to steer a crowd into missing something important. That’s the real De Palma touch, even more than the operatic overtones and excess.
Passion turns into vintage De Palma — which is to say, the film seems almost engineered to get you giggling at the extravagance of its absurdity. Any enthusiasm in the viewer is bound to be a shadow of the film's passion for itself.
The impression is that De Palma is indulging himself with homages to his own Hitchcockian greatest hits, with results that veer close to self-parody on occasion and emphasize just how far this once-outstanding director's creative star has plummeted.
I'd suggest it's a bit better than the original French film (Love Crime), mostly because it adds all the DePalma melodrama and camp. Noomi is solid and McAdams is really perfect in the role. The chief weakness in the film is the boredom surrounding the set-up scenes the seemingly unimportant acts that later tie things together. I mean, sure, you have to have those in the movie, but you've got to make the "getting there" interesting. I'm still deciding whether I liked the split-screen during the ballet sequence. I think the dancer was a bit too good-looking because she distracts from the other half of the screen which is important. Regardless, it's not one of DePalma's best, but it's fun.
Brian DePalma's remake of the French thriller 'Love Crime' is a much glossier affair than its counterpart, although not quite as good. Containing all of DePalma's usual trademarks; Circling and tracking camera movements, overhead shots, scene dissolves, and of course split screen which, as presented here, is disappointingly rather superfluous. The film is also beautifully shot and designed and DePalma has lost none of his skill for drawing the viewer in. What the film does lack, surprisingly, is any really good set pieces which are often the director's piece de resistance.
The first hour is compulsive viewing as the female protagonists scheme and manipulate ensuring audience intrigue as to where events are going, but with the demise of one of the characters the film begins to fall apart and, unfortunately, it never recovers. This is a story weakness because 'Love Crime' also suffered the same problem at the same point but did manage to get back on track for a good ending. DePalma presents us with his own special kind of ending that just doesn't work here. In fact this final sequence is yet another failed attempt to repeat the 'Carrie' finale which succeeded because it had a genuine shock at its conclusion. Interestingly, the music used for this final sequence would seem to have been lifted straight out of 'Dressed to Kill'
The verdict has to be that whilst this is not vintage DePalma, it deserves better than to be shunted out as a 'Straight to DVD' release as has been its fate in the UK. Mediocre DePalma is still a lot better than many other director's at the top of their game.
Rachel McAdams & Noomi Rapace start out so tight you'd think they were lovers, but that fondness turns to competition, then deception, then hate. While the plot takes too long to develop and ultimately crumbles, the performances are engaging. Master director Brian De Palma knows how to craft a compelling story, but this one works against him. The most notable aspect of this film is the high-end, polished look: slick art direction, beautiful design and high glamour women. Unfortunately, it takes more than that to make a gripping drama.
A ridiculous film full of stupid characters doing stupid things. A waste of two great actresses and a great director's **** plot is ludicrous and the twists don't pack the punch that you expect them to. They simply leave the viewer in an "oh, COME ON!" state of mind.
France 2 Cinéma,
Deutscher Filmförderfonds (DFFF),
MEDIA Programme of the European Union