Director: Brian De Palma
Writers: Brian De Palma, Natalie Carter
Stars: Rachel McAdams, Noomi Rapace, Karoline Herfurth
Motion Picture Rating: R
Runtime: 102 minutes
This is a remake of a 2010 French film called Love Crime from writer-director Alain Corneau. This time around the driving force is Brian De Palma; the 70 year old Hitchcock enthusiast famed for Carrie (1976), Scarface (1983) and The Untouchables (1987). It has been a while since De Palma produced a great film and the wait continues. Still, most of his neo-noir patchwork pieces of sex, manipulation and mind games are fun to watch.
One of this film’s taglines was ‘No backstabbing; Just business.’ That sums it up nicely. Noomi Rapace is Isabelle, a quiet and low ranking advertising creative who comes up with a clever mobile phone campaign. She has the credit for it taken by her ambitious and arrogant boss Christine (Rachel McAdams) and thereafter they play a strange game of one-upmanship with undertones of sex and obsession. The two female leads flirt with each other and Christine’s sexual preferences tend to S&M. There is a murder and the second half plays out like a crime thriller. It is certainly odd, and relatively fun, but for a movie called Passion there is a lack of fireworks.
Christine dresses in red and Isabelle dresses in black for most of the film. There are a lot of primary colours on display and plenty of stripped back sets. It looks like a De Palma film from the 1980’s and that aesthetic is enhanced by the lighting, décor and soundtrack. I have never seen a workplace like this one, but the lack of reality almost suits the outlandish story and characters. Passion plays like Basic Instinct at times which in 2013 you cannot seriously get away with.
De Palma filmed and financed this in Europe with Berlin the prime location. Just like Woody Allen, here he is reliant on past film glories and undiscerning Euro investors to bring his cinematic ‘vision’ to life. It is a strange phenomenon, but it gets older US directors out of the house, funds them to visit Europe for a while and allows local investors to get that Hollywood feeling. That the resulting output is invariably poor (Match Point, Scoop!) is by the by. With this film De Palma tries hard, but is actually doing little that’s original and he delivers a strangely cold, calculated and dull film.