Director: Brian De Palma
A week before I saw Passion, I saw Love Crime, the French movie whose remake Passion is. And I was far from impressed. Love Crime is a thriller so bland, it’s like explaining a joke after you have cracked it. The movie’s selling point is the surprise turn it takes in the second half. But from then on, it just kept getting more and more unbelievable. Since Brain De Palma was directing the remake, I had a lot of expectations attached to this film. Palma has seen both sad days and rocking days as a director. But he can generally be relied upon when the material is Hitchcockian.
However, Passion will dash all your hopes for instead of plugging the holes in the original, Palma has added a few more of his own. Noomi Rapace is an executive in an ad firm and Rachel McAdams is her superior. Adams passes off Rapace’s work as her own and so begins a rivalry that keeps getting ugly with every turn. Until the half way point when things get serious. Palma has also tried to add a sprinkling of suspense to it. But the suspense lasts for all of twenty minutes. If you haven’t figured it out immediately that is. Palma reuses a few of his trademark elements. The split screen and a tracking shot, albeit a brief one. Here they simply stand out as gimmicks and contribute nothing towards building the tension. He even extends the story to give an ending that will leave you more confused than thinking. And why introduce a homo-erotic theme when the actions of the lead characters are not driven by sexual jealously. Love Crime briefly hinted at it but here it’s more blatant and unnecessary.
The remake of Sleuth with Michael Caine and Jude Law also had a sexual undercurrent between the protagonists but there it made some sense. Here the only ambition is to look different from the original. My chief complaint with Love Crime was the back ground music or rather the lack of it. It’s not absent completely but missing in a few key scenes. Simply by introducing a few riffs, the viewer could be guided to the right emotion the scenes are supposed to bring out. I was hoping Passion would right this wrong. But no, it follows the same trajectory of a minimalist background score and hence most of the time you don’t now how to react. Ludivine Sagnier I thought was the weakest link amongst the cast of the original. But wait till you see Rapace. Inept and awkward, she shows none of the spunk she showed as Lisbeth Salander. It’s embarrassing to see her roll her eyes, pout and generally, not act. A notch above, yet nowhere close to Kristin Scott Thomas is McAdams. If she does not fail completely in her role it’s probably because she shares most of her scenes with Rapace.
When a director starts repeating ideas, it’s generally an indication that his best days are behind him (remember RGV?). But I don’t want to believe that. I am certain that given the right script, Palma will return to the good old days of Blow Out, Carrie, Scarface, The Untouchables and Mission: Impossible. But for now, we’ll have to settle for this passion-less reminder of that era.