Entries tagged with “Brian De Palma”.


They do not make films like this one any longer. Usually this sentence when found in the review of a movie is supposed to be appreciative. Not in the case of ‘s Obsession. The film is made in 1976,the year Hitchcock was making his last movie, and owes a lot to the style of story building and telling, and to the cinematographic tricks of the master. One thing is however missing – the element of novelty and permanent search that was characteristic to Hitchcock, which made each of his movie different from the previous. Obsession is a film a la Hitchcock without the surprises. Even worse, without the humor.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0074991

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0074991

 

The idea is interesting and ‘Obsession‘ may have been one of the first to use it. A rich man’s wife and girl are kidnapped and a fat ransom is demanded. The man (acted by ) decides to call the police, and the story turns into a tragedy when the car with the kidnappers, the wife and the girl explodes in the events following the police action. The hero is overwhelmed by remorse and guilt for his decision to turn to the police rather than just pay the ransom. 16 years later, in the same place where he first met his wife, he meets a young woman with a striking resemblance. He falls for her, and ends by asking her into marriage. Actually, here are some of the good moments of the film. Is he really in love or is the guilt driving his actions? Is he attracted by the young girl  or by the memory of the deceased wife (double role for )? Can the past be really fixed that easy?

 

(video source Arrow Video)

 

All is almost fine with the questions, the problem is with the answers and the way these are given. The way the conflict is solved is predictable in the big lines. There are some surprises at the very ending, they do not change to much of the essence of the story, and make the final scenes very hard to sustain in facts and in the psychology of the characters. In order to present the facts in the past, director uses a technique inside the flash-backs which I did not like too much, probably because it was not built well visually (cannot tell more, would be too much of a spoiler). Techniques from Hitchcock’s films are reused intensively, especially the musical score, but they seem already out of fashion already for the mid-70s. So is the style of acting, especially of the lead character acted by . On the other hand watching is a real pleasure, it is her that maestro Hitchcock would have loved to include in the cast of one of his movies.

Obsession‘ fails in my opinion and to my taste first of all because it tries to explain too much. I think that explaining less and trusting the cinema viewers to fill in the missing details would have been better.

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.