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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Movie Review - Passion

Passion (2013)
Starring Rachel McAdams, Noomi Rapace, Karoline Herfurth, and Paul Anderson
Directed by Brian De Palma
***This film is currently streaming on Netflix***

Passion is an English-language remake of the 2011 French film Love Crime, a movie that wasn't very good to begin with, but almost landed in the guilty pleasure realm because of its ludicrousness.  Having disliked Love Crime, I admittedly only watched Passion because of Rachel McAdams' presence which I hoped would make the story a little more bearable.  That didn't happen.

Instead, I discovered that Passion is one of the worst films of the year.  Director Brian De Palma has always been a second-rate (or even third-rate) imitator of Alfred Hitchcock and despite the Master of Suspense's obvious influence on the director, De Palma just can't hold a candle to Hitch and his attempts to do so are laughably bad.  Having seen a few De Palma films at this point, it's obvious why he chose Passion as his passion project -- his first film in over five years.  The lesbian overtures between the two main characters were just too much for the director to pass up considering his tendency to overly sexualize his films to the point of absurdity.  (As an example, the advertising firm that the two main characters work for in this film is named "Koch."  Maybe it means nothing, but with De Palma, my mind went right to the phallic reference.)

There's no subtlety on display -- I don't think De Palma knows the meaning of that word -- and despite getting an acceptable performance out of McAdams (whose role harkens back to her Mean Girls character), Noomi Rapace gives one of the worst acting performances I've seen this year.  Admittedly, it was Rapace's awful performance that kept me watching as I wanted to see if it would land on my Worst Performances of the Year chart for the 2013 RyMickey Awards -- it most certainly will.  Overacting to the nth degree followed by acting like a limp noodle with no emotion, Rapace's eyes are just empty throughout this whole thing.  There was never a moment when I felt anything at all from her.

The film is set up as a power struggle between two women -- McAdams' Christine is a high-ranking executive in an advertising firm and Rapace's Isabelle is one of her underlings -- and when Isabelle creates an ingenious ad campaign and Christine takes credit for it, Isabelle's mind begins to shift towards revenge.  The same problem with the story in the original French film still holds true here -- sleaziness and sexiness doesn't give you the right to toss a believable plot aside and both De Palma's film and its predecessor focus solely on a Cinemax-ian late-night soft-core porny vibe than anything else.  If you want to go that route, go for it, but go all out.  Trying to balance some modicum of seriousness with the Skinemax style won't ever work.

Passion is a truly horrible piece of cinema.  If you're forced to choose between Passion and Love Crime, absolutely take the French flick.  The French language at least sounds a little sexier.

The RyMickey Rating:  F

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