Brian De Palma returns to the sleek, sly, seductive territory of Dressed To Kill with an erotic corporate thriller fueled by sex, ambition, image, envy and the dark, murderous side of passion. Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace star as two female executives whose fierce competition to rise up the ranks is about to turn literally cut-throat.
eyelights: its alternate ending.
eyesores: its performances. its gross miscasting. its cheap, low grade quality. its crummy script. its lack of passion.
“There’s no backstabbing here, Christine, it’s just business.”
‘Passion’. Or ‘Rubbish’.
I’m no great fan of Brian De Palma. I like a few of his movies (ex: ‘Body Double‘, ‘Casualties of War’, ‘The Untouchables‘, but he also misfires often (ex: ‘Dressed to Kill’, ‘Mission: Impossible’) or is so widely over-rated (ex: ‘Scarface‘) that it’s hard to appreciate his oeuvre.
And so it was with some trepidation that I approached ‘Passion’, a picture that smelled of throwaway Hollywood sex thriller. It’s only after I discovered that it was a remake of a French film called ‘Crime d’amour‘ that I thought it might be worth taking a look at: it had a blueprint.
Hmmm…. maybe it wouldn’t be so bad.
Well, hot holy Hell…
‘Passion’ is a real stinkfest. It’s so beneath my expectations for even De Palma that it’s beyond me that he signed on to make it. It’s utterly bewildering. Was he merely desperate for work when he took it? Or could he have lost what disputable taste and/or talent that he once had?
Honestly, the only way that I even made it to the halfway mark was by allowing myself a break down the middle; I actually had to dangle myself a carrot to get there.
It’s that bad.
The core plot is the same as ‘Crime d’amour’: Christine and Isabelle are associates in a large corporation. Christine is the younger woman’s mentor, but they become rivals when Isabelle takes notice of her boss’ sociopathic behaviour and decides to stake out her own ground.
Christine obviously doesn’t respond well to that.
It gets nasty.
The problem with ‘Passion’ is that it looks and feels like a straight-to-video adaptation. It looks so cheap that it belies its purported 25 million dollar budget. The only guess I can make is that 20 million went to marketing and the other five went to making this damned picture.
The money certainly didn’t go to its $#!tty script, which was penned by De Palma himself.
- The dialogues are outrageously bad.
- And it doesn’t make sense at all most of the time; De Palma’s scenes just don’t hold up.
It’s not like they got a stellar cast, either: Rachel McAdams is grossly miscast as Christine, looking like a high school drama student desperately trying to act like a bitchy adult and failing miserably. She’s no Kristin Scott Thomas: there’s no charisma or intensity here.
At no point did I believe in McAdams’ Christine; there’s no intelligence, ferocity or leadership there.
Noomi Rapace is only barely better, sleepwalking through her part as though she couldn’t care less – but only stinking the screen from time to time, unlike her costar. And then there’s Paul Anderson as Dirk, their shared lover, who is SO sleazy-looking that he just doesn’t fit in.
Really, the only person worth watching is Karoline Herfurth, as Dani, Isabelle’s assistant.
But the bar is evidently set REALLY low.
What’s amazing is just how little spark this picture has: you don’t really feel the rivalry, the danger, or the damage done. It all seems very casual and is utterly forgettable. Even what little sex there is is silly or (ironically) so passionless that it fails to interest or titillate.
It’s an “erotic thriller” that is neither.
The only thing that makes this picture interesting is as a comparative exercise after watching the original: to see how to undo something that sort-of-kind-of works, but also to see how De Palma changed the delivery and focus of his film from the murder onward.
Then De Palma parties like it’s 1980 again.
The murder itself is the most visually interesting part of the picture, being a split screen of Isabelle watching a ballet on the left side and Christine wrapping up a party and taking a shower while waiting for her lover on the right. The combination of the two was interesting.
But this is 2/3 of way in and, when Isabelle is arrested, the picture devolves into a routine movie frame up – as opposed to the more overt approach of the original, which left you wondering what the heck is going on with Isabelle. Here, we just wait for someone to prove her innocence.
The ending is pure $#!t, but at least one gets the impression that De Palma cares a little bit. Perhaps he was sleeping through the first 90 minutes, going through the motions until he could get to do what he wanted; he injects a bit more creativity, his own touch. Finally.
Sadly, it’s just stupid.
Stupid, stupid, stupid.
None of it makes sense; you just can’t help but shake your head at the TV.
Seriously, ‘Passion’ is pure garbage. Gosh… I’m not even that enamoured with the original film, so it’s not a question of bias. It’s just that ‘Passion’ is everything that’s wrong with Hollywood brand of “erotic thrillers” – and on top of that, there’s no sex to compensate for it.
Date of viewing: May 16, 2017