18 jun. 2015

Passion (3/10): Vintage De Palma isn't nearly as interesting.

“I used to want to be admired. Now I want to be loved.”

We can all agree that Brian De Palma directed some of his best films during the 80’s and 90’s (Scarface, The Untouchables, Carlito’s Way, Mission: Impossible, and Body Double) and let us not forget about his 1976 classic horror film Carrie, but it has been nearly two decades since he has made a great film. We can make a case for him that he doesn’t nearly direct as much as he used to considering it took him five years to make Passion while in the 80’s he directed nine films and five during the 90’s. However his latest efforts haven’t made much of a splash with critics nor audiences. It may come as a surprise however that Passion has a sort of 80’s retro feel to it and that De Palma included some of his classic trademarks like the split screen, long takes with dolly movements, dopplegangers, and several dreamy sequences. Fans of De Palma might enjoy the fact that in Passion he revists these recurring themes, but at the same time he introduces those elements in such  way that they feel like a parody of his own work. More than a De Palma film, Passion feels like an attempt from one of his fans to honor his past work with deliberately forced dialogue and over the top performances. It is a B-movie, but one I really had a difficult time enjoying. There are ridiculous amounts of twists that make very little sense and I lost interest in the story pretty quickly. 

Passion is actually a remake of Alain Corneau’s 2010 French film, Crime d’amour (Love Crime), starring Kristin Scott Thomas and Ludivine Sagnier, and that film seems far more appealing than this one. De Palma adapted the screenplay for this remake which stars Rachel McAdams as a manipulative advertising agency boss in Germany named Christine. Her protege, Isabelle (Noomi Rapace), proves to be very talented when she comes up for a slick advertising campaign for a cell phone company. Executives in the United States are fascinated by the concept she came up with, but when Christine takes credit for her protege’s work things begin to get complicated between them. It doesn’t help that Isabelle is having a secret affair with Dirk (Paul Anderson), who happens to be dating Christine. No one is actually who they seem to be in this world and things begin to get out of hand pretty quickly when Christine tries to publicly humiliate Isabelle. Caroline Herfuth also plays a secondary role as Isabelle’s assistant with who she is a bit obsessive with.

It only took me about ten minutes into the film to lose much of my interest in the film. The acting was over the top and the dialogue extremely forced, and I know that it was intentional but it didn’t make for an interesting satire either. Passion is a film that obsesses over its style and forgets about its substance. The long takes with dolly movements are incredibly distracting at times and I didn’t feel they served any purpose in the story. The final third act is incredibly dull while trying to be clever layering one twist after another which doesn’t make much sense. I honestly didn’t find any redeeming quality from Passion and couldn’t even enjoy the performances from the talented cast because the story was too painful to get through.         

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