It’s hard to believe and even harder to watch, but Brian de Palma is back with a parody of his Hitchcockian obsessions, which might have been promoted as sexy but, truth is, it’s almost unbearable kitschy!
Either Brian de Palma has gone completely dotty or, in an effort to deconstruct the elements that once permeated his oeuvre and his age-old Hitchcockian obsessions, he simply forgot how to make movies!
There’s no other explanation why “Passion” is just as cheesy as its title, and looks like a de Palma spoof rather than a movie made by de Palma himself. As for passion, it seems to have been lost in translation!
For anyone who happened to see “Love Crime” by Alain Corneau, the film “Passion” was based on, the idea that de Palma would try his hand at a game of power, seduction, perversion and criminal tendencies, featuring two female high-flyers (originally Kristin Scott Thomas and Ludivine Sagnier and now Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace) in the corporate business world seemed exiting – to say the least!
Unfortunately it’s not. In fact, de Palma does everything in his power to strip his remake film of all the elements that would normally provide the once visionary director of “Dressed to Kill” and “Body Double” with enough ammunition to elevate this cheesy thriller into a real tour de force on female sexually and victim/victimizer role reversal between.
But maybe the real problem is a lot simpler than that.
His two leading ladies are called upon to interpret what is probably the most demanding part in their relatively brief careers, and fall spectacularly short. Rachel McAdams is less than convincing in the role of a psychotic bitch who takes advantage of everyone and everything in her wake just to validate herself, while Noomi Rapache is just too dry to be a cut-throat opportunist or even the victim of a merciless scheme, contrary to the delightful pairing of Kristin Scott Thomas and Ludivine Sagnier – a brilliant piece of casting if the original film.
No matter how much they try to inhabit their characters (and believe me, the effort is painfully obvious), Brian de Palma insists on filming them as if they were members of the opposite sex, stripping them of every trace of femininity, which is supposed to be the base of their relationship, and leaving at a loss what to do without a single scene that really justifies their actions.
Add to that the fact that de Palma gives into the temptation of plot twists, cheap sentiment and an onslaught of elementary split-screens and flashbacks at every turn, while at the same time indulging in his usual Hitchcockian references (from an ash-blone Rachel McAdams all the way to surprise finale) now reduced to kitschy gimmicks, and it’s plain to see why “Passion” is such a dreadful misfire.
Worse than that, it’s a mock-sensual euro-pudding, which uses its international origins (“Love Crime” was a Franco-German production) to justify an endless string of cigarettes, while hinting at unspoken desires with a few pecks on the lips that make the promotional still of MacAdams and Rapache leaning in for a kiss look like a lesbian extravaganza.
But most importantly, “Passion” is proof that de Palma stopped making decent films sometime in 1993 (see “Carlito’s Way”) making Corneau’s mediocre cheese-fest look like masterpiece. And if that’s not ironic then I don’t know what is!