No Backstabbing. Just Business.
Director Brian De Palma has had an interesting career thus far, with hits Scarface (1983) and The Untouchables (1987) in the eighties, then fizzling out after Carlito’s Way (1993), with projects such as The Black Dahlia (2006) and Mission to Mars (2000), failing to strike a chord with critics and audiences alike. Now, after a five year absence, De Palma is back with this pantomime thriller Passion, a remake of the French 2010 film Crime D’amour (Love Crimes).
Isabelle James (Noomi Rapace) works as an Advertising campaign creator for her cutthroat, manipulative boss Christine (Rachel McAdams), but what begins as a rivalry between the two women later spirals out of control, eventually turning murderous. De Palma’s film Passion can literally be split into two distinct parts; it’s first half is a exaggerated competition between Isabelle and Christine, both fighting for a job offer in New York, then becoming embroiled in a love triangle with Christine’s colleague Dani (Karoline Herfurth), and Isabelle’s boyfriend and the company’s biggest client Dirk (Paul Anderson). The film then turns into a mindless murder mystery when Christine is murdered and Isabelle is labelled as the prime suspect.
Both leading ladies are miss-cast with Rachel McAdams channelling her Mean Girls persona, virtually playing a grown up version of Regina George from the 2004 film, while also being utterly unconvincing as a corporate heavyweight. Noomi Rapace on the other hand looks uncomfortable for the duration of scenes in the film, appearing awkward in her role as Isabelle, either coming off as wooden in the picture’s first half or over-the-top in its second. Even French actor, Rainer Bock, who plays inspector Bach, appears to have walked off a Gérard Depardieu set, playing it way too serious in contrast to his melodramatic co-stars.
In an effort to employ his old-age Hitchcockian obsession, director De Palma uses endless candid angles and noir lighting throughout the film, adding an over-the-top aesthetic to the already nonsensical plot, with the first few acts resembling an extended perfume commercial, while in the flick’s latter half, venetian blinds seem to have been installed in every building in an effort to attain a bogus noir-esquire atmosphere. With messy tonal shifts throughout, De Palma doesn’t know whether he’s making a drama, thriller or a comedy and misses the mark on most occasions; the film’s overly dramatic score, composed by long-time partner Pino Donaggio, Carrie (1976), only adds insult to injury.
The advertising campaign mistakenly claims Passion is an erotic thriller, sadly there is nothing ‘erotic,’ thrilling’ or even ‘passionate’ about the whole affair, it’s obvious that Di Palma is trying at times, as there are a few decent moments here and there, but hopefully, this is just another bump in the road for the director and not the shape of things to come.
2 / 5 – Average
Reviewed by Mr. Movie
Passion is released through Transmission Films Australia