94 min., dir. by Brian De Palma, with Noomi Rapace, Rachel McAdams, and Paul Anderson
Highly reminiscent of his deflated bust Femme Fatale, Brian De Palma’s Passion lands on a growing list of this year’s accidental comedies. A remake of the two-year-old French film, Crime d’Amour, Passion is soaked in clumsy deliveries and schlocky misgivings. All in all, it’s a ruddy mess.
Isabelle (Noomi Rapace) is working her way up the corporate ladder. Apparently some sort of marketing whiz, she’s been hard at work with her boss Christine (Rachel McAdams) as they attempt to redefine an ad campaign for the smartphone they’re handling. After a long night that resulted in no ideas, Isabelle wakes from a dream with a brilliant commercial idea that will floor everyone. Her commercial is a success and the company heads are floored — and right in front of Isabelle, Christine takes all the credit. Slowly but surely, Christine’s true colors start to show. Manipulating everyone around her, Christine shows now bounds to her moral depravity as she leads Isabelle into a pit of depression and despair. Isabelle tries her best to fight back, and we have to wait and see who comes out on top of this see-saw battle of wills.
As with almost everything De Palma touches, Passion is a hotbed of sexual taboo and overindulgence. It’s all problematic though, as each attempt to explore anything erotic seems to come from the mind of a 14-year-old in 1983 who just found the station that transmits a scrambled Playboy channel. Passion’s blue nature exudes a level of sensuality on par with a soggy hot dog lying in a pile of melted snickers bars. The need to explore every facet of human sexuality overshadows any semblance of an attempt to care about the story or acting.
Since the Swedish adaptations of Stig Larson’s Millineum trilogy, Noomi Rapace has blazed a trail to stardom, but she, along with McAdams and everyone else in Passion (sans Rainer Bock, whoe seems to be immune to performing badly) slaps on an uncomfortable layer of blocky stiffness and awkward silliness to every frame. B-movie atmospheres stuffed with bland dialogue and high school drama deliveries rule over every minute of Passion. Mystique, drama, and anything else used to evoke a modicum of interest from its viewers seemed to never be part of the plan.
I have yet to see the film Passion is based on, and while the stories are similar enough, I understand Crime d’Amour works well as an allegory for a twisted battle for prominence on the corporate ladder. Passion, on the other hand, is simply a terse thriller that wants to be the G-rated version of softcore porn.