I went to this film against all my instincts. I had read already (some of) the bad reviews but I was hoping they were wrong. I so much admire some of the previous works of Brian De Palma (films like ‘Scarface’, ‘The Untouchables’, even the first ‘Mission: Impossible’) and I was hoping that all these critics got it wrong, that they missed the hidden quality of the cinema making of the master. Unfortunately they were all almost right.

 

source www.imdb.com/title/tt1829012/

source www.imdb.com/title/tt1829012/

 

I cannot really tell where ‘Passion’ starts to fail. Some of the problems are certainly with the script which tells a story of corporate corruption where guilty passions between the execs at the top slide almost inevitably towards murder. It starts like a corporate intrigue movie, it becomes later a crime story with touches of thriller, and it plays all the time with the soft erotic genre. All is however so superficial! I never succeed to get in touch with the characters which seem to oscillate between attractive and very attractive, evil and very evil. Eventually the whole story seems to long, and the 1h40 min of screening rather seemed to me like 2h40 min.

 

(video source CineFix)

 

It’s not that all good things we know about Brian De Palma’s film-making are missing.  The camera moves are always right and they compensate with the focus and clarity the rather conventional setting. For a few moments in the final there is suspense in the air, but the ending is unnecessarily complicated and with too many twists (looks like two or three alternate endings without adding thrill, maybe these were alternate endings and the director could not decide which one is to be cut out). If the mix of large windows with panoramic landscapes of Berlin and London and the so conventional background music would have been a little more exaggerated I could have even suspected that they hint to parody, like in the Tarantino movies, but I am afraid this is not the case. Is the film supposed to be ‘sexy’? I am afraid it’s just cool like in cold. Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace are very good actresses who have already proved that they can carry very complex and interesting roles, here they do OK sketchy performances, much less than I expected.

If you do not admire Brian De Palma you do not have any special reason to watch this film. If you admire him – as I do – you have the dilemma of whether to watch one of his worst films.  Brian De Palma made a few very good films we all remember and a few less good we would rather forget. ‘Passion’ belongs to the later category.  Maybe what is missing is exactly the Passion. The passion but also the patience for making good cinema.