Tuesday 27 August 2013


(Brian DePalma, 2012)

It might be better if DePalma took this seriously, but he never does. But then he's evidently an intelligent man, and the screenplay for Passion - written by DePalma himself, based upon Alain Corneau's 2010 French thriller Love Crime - is relentlessly ridiculous, full of unbelievable characters and hugely silly moments. DePalma plays the whole thing like a cut-crystal black comedy, encouraging leads Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace to ham it up (to occasionally very funny effect - McAdams in particular has a marvellous time as an uber-bitch) and indulging in his more baroque flourishes with real relish.
It is superficially a thriller. McAdams plays a manipulative, machiavellian advertising agency executive whose relationship with her protege (Rapace) evolves from rivalry to murder via flirting, love triangles and inter-office game-playing.
While the first act is a strangely stilted little drama, set in an unnamed City with a definite air of Euro-pudding, it improves once it goes up a gear in the later stages. The noir elements become more pronounced, the stylistic approach becomes bolder and more obvious, DePalma wheels out a couple of his famed set-pieces, one involving some ostentatious split-screen technology, and Pino Donaggio's previously irritating, overly-busy score suddenly makes a sort of Bernard Hermann pastiche sense.
But it remains curiously airless and thoroughly stupid, for all that it gestures at commenting on modern visual communication and female relationships. Really all it seems interested in is DePalma's own superb technical control. Without a strong screenwriter, his visual gifts often lead him down thankless paths, and so it has proven here.
The performances do little to help - both actresses stumble, for all that they seem to be having fun - and veteran Almodovar collaborator Jose Luis Alcaine's sharp cinematography only makes it all feel even more coldly clinical than it needs to be.
It seems a long time since DePalma made Femme Fatale...

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