[PASSION screens Friday November 1st at 9:30 pm and Sunday November 2nd at 7:30 pm at the Cleveland Cinematheque.]
Review by Bob Ignizio
It may be a remake of the 2010 French film LOVE CRIME,
but like any true auteur, De Palma has made it his own both with his
undeniable visual style and by rewriting the script to incorporate
the themes and ideas that resonate through all his most personal
work. In other words, we've got a misogynistic murder plot dressed up
in Hitchcock homage and executed with undeniable skill and flair.
Sometimes that skill and flair are enough for De Palma to skate by
on, sometimes they aren't.
The plot takes place in the
modern day world of advertising.
In this milieu, executive Christine (Rachel McAdams) is a master
manipulator, using her charm to get quality work out of her
subordinate Isabelle (Noomi Rapace) which she then claims as her own.
Christine is such a good manipulator that she even manages to make
Isabelle feel sorry for her
by relating a sob story about a dead twin sister. But while Isabelle
may not be see what's going on, her assistant Dani (Karoline
Herfurth), who just happens to be smitten by her boss, does. Further
complicating matters is the fact that both Christine and Isabelle are
seeing the same man, Dirk (Paul Anderson).
course, Christine is fully aware of Dirk's infidelity. That's at
least a part of the reason why she continues to humiliate Isabelle,
but the main reason is that she feels threatened by Isabelle's
talent. Eventually, it seems, she pushes Isabelle too far and winds
up murdered. Isabelle, who has evidently had a nervous breakdown,
even seemingly confesses to the crime. But there's something more
complicated going on here which makes us wonder whether Isabelle is
really the puppet she's been described as, or the true puppet master.
allows De Palma to put forth a view that women in corporate culture
are forced to compete with each other for power and position, often
viciously, rather than help each other. It also gives him the
opportunity to indulge his penchant for kinky sexual scenarios and
negative lesbian stereotypes, albeit in a decidedly toned-down,
almost PG-13 fashion given that this is the same guy who made BODY
and DRESSED TO
Too bad, because a little more edginess might have livened the
proceedings up. As it
stands, PASSION can
only be described as lesser De Palma. It's certainly an improvement
over his last suspense/thriller, the laughably bad BLACK
DAHLIA, but that's not saying
much. 2 1/2 out of 4 stars.