Sunday, September 1, 2013

Review: Passion

Image courtesy of Entertainment One
I can simultaneously appreciate the artistry and style behind Brian de Palma's "Passion," which is a remake of Alain Corneau's "Love Crime," and still find the picture to be a not completely satisfying experience.

It's not a bad film, per se. De Palma is a master of provocative thrillers, including "Blow Out," "Body Double" and the notorious "Dressed to Kill."

And yet, I felt a bit underwhelmed by "Passion" as I did with de Palma's last few pictures, including "The Black Dahlia" and "Redacted." I'm still hoping he has in him another "Femme Fatale," which, for me, was the last great movie by the director.

If you've seen "Love Crime," de Palma's film stays pretty true to the story before veering off slightly at the end. Noomi Rapace plays Isabelle, a young woman working in the world of advertising whose concepts often overshadow those of her boss, Christine (Rachel McAdams), a back-stabbing ice queen.

Christine takes credit for one of Isabelle's best ideas, setting off a chain of events that lead to infidelity, a corporate cat and mouse game, humiliation and, eventually, a brutal murder.

Of course, de Palma would not have taken on this story if a few twists and turns were not involved - and there are more than a few. No character is completely innocent and the film includes a fairly masterful series of sequences during which one character sets up the perfect murder.

But most of De Palma's best thrillers have something lurking under the surface, whether it's the held-over 70s paranoia in 1981's "Blow Out," the psycho sexual themes of "Dressed to Kill" or the Hollywood satire of "Body Double."

While "Passion" is set within the cutthroat corporate world, it really has very little to say on the matter. It's basically an exercise in style, albeit not a bad one by any means. It's just not the triumphant return for de Palma for which I've been waiting.

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