Passion Blu-ray Review
Brian De Palma is one of the more perplexing directors. He has been working for years and is for the most part a respected filmmaker finding wide success in films such as CARRIE, SCARFACE, THE UNTOUCHABLES, and MISSION IMPOSSIBLE. Some of his lesser known work such as DRESSED TO KILL, BLOW OUT, SISTERS and BODY DOUBLE, while flawed have been quite influential in terms of style and tone. De Palma’s latest effort, PASSION, feels much like these latter films, which isn’t a bad thing if it were the early 1980’s.
PASSION is a remake of the 2010 French film CRIME D’AMOUR. The story lends itself perfectly to Brian De Palma’s aesthetic about female heroines dealing with crime and betrayal. Rachel McAdams plays a ruthless, manipulative executive in an advertising agency (think of McAdams’ bully character from MEAN GIRLS all grown up). She uses a talented introverted protégé played by Noomi Rapace to further her career. But two can play at that game as the film pits the two against each other in this thriller noir. As their rivalry progresses so does the danger from their cruel actions, ultimately resulting into a murder mystery.
The problem is the murder is not all that mysterious. Every clue plays out predictably. The only saving grace is the director’s flair for theatrics. In fact, I would go so far as to say that De Palma made this film with only the third act in mind so he can use his staple split screen and eerie camera slants with the use of contrasting dark shadows. Aiding in the positives is the score by composer Pino Donaggio who sets the tone perfectly for the style in which the film plays. A different sound and the film would fall into the hokey, bad realm quite quickly, but the happy melodramatic score puts an unusual uneasiness over everything.
I think the most frustrating part has to do with the unbelievable actions and reactions from the characters. I don’t want to get specific but the idea of black mailing a murderer seems like an obviously dangerous proposition. And in what world would a dominating supervisor who is known for being conniving be able to threaten a subordinate with sexual harassment? The performances are fine but the characters don’t make sense. These are among the many little flaws that just don’t hold up under questioning.
Admittedly, I have some weird infatuation with De Palma’s work and was very curious to see PASSION. Unfortunately, the only thing I came away with was a few memorable scenes in a film that doesn’t work. If you are familiar with De Palma’s work then you will see every step of PASSION coming a mile away and not just what will happen in the story but how it will unfold as well. Die hard fans of the director’s work will probably appreciate PASSION but I’m guessing most will come away with the same “been there, done that” feeling as I did.
Video: (MPEG-4 AVC, 1080p 1.78:1) The saturated colors and shadows work extremely well with a very sharp image.
Audio: (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The dialogue is presented cleanly but the real winner here is Pino Donaggio’s wonderful score.
Interviews with Brian De Palma, Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace (7:02): Everyone talks about the film and Brian De Palma embarrasses himself by proudly proclaiming that the audience will have no idea what the characters are capable of and who the murderer is.