Synopsis: The rivalry between the manipulative boss of an advertising agency and her talented protégée escalates from stealing credit to public humiliation to murder.
Stars: Rachel McAdams, Noomi Rapace, Karoline Herfurth, Paul Anderson
Director: Brian De Palma
Running Length: 102 minutes
Trailer Review: Here
TMMM Score: (2/10)
Review: In the’ 70s and early 80s there was one American director that could be counted on to bring a daring style to his films. With a distinct European flair with more than a fair dollop of Hitchcock inventiveness, Brian De Palma had the market cornered on darkly twisty features from Sisters to Carrie to Blow Out to The Fury. I personally think 1980’s Dressed to Kill is a true genre masterpiece and the director never saw the kind of success like he did in this era.
So when word got out that De Palma was again exploring a dark side with a remake of the 2010 French film Crime d’amour I was intrigued to see if this Passion project would help the director reclaim some of the fame he’s had a substantial hand in frittering away. Depressingly ungainly and ultimately awful, Passion is less of a comeback and more a death knell for a director I continue to have great admiration for.
Where did this movie go wrong? It would be nice to have somewhere else to throw some blame but as director and screenwriter it’s De Palma that must shoulder it all. The casting is way off, the camera work surprisingly flat, and the plot is a mash-up of the worst bits of the mystery genre. Worst of all…it’s dull. I can forgive most anything in a film but being tedious is something I can’t stand for. It’s over an hour and a half of false starts and dead ends, with roadblocks thrown in to further stymie any energy the cast tries to work up.
Not that the cast is working very hard. Rachel McAdams merely conjures up a more adult version of Regina George, the queen bee meanie she played to success in Mean Girls. With her blonde hair and impressive closet of fashion forward costumes, McAdams may look the part of the femme fatale that De Palma so loves to film but the actress lacks fundamental depth. Her character is hungry for success yet McAdams never shows true darkness beneath her porcelain veneer – we’re led to believe she’s a sexual fetishist but either McAdams didn’t want to go the extra mile to make this quirk fully realized or De Palma didn’t ask her to and the result is a toothless villain.
I want to like Noomi Rapace so much but she’s making it extremely difficult with her choices. Though I liked her work in Prometheus, in March’s Dead Man Down, her fragile butterfly demeanor failed her…as it does here. This is the original girl with the dragon tattoo so we know what she’s capable of…but she’s totally checked out in a performance that leaves her and the audience dazed and confused. With her cooing child-like voice and blank, expressionless face, she always looks like she just woke up from a long nap.
Even if McAdams and Rapace were up to the challenge, De Palma’s script is full of clichéd dialogue and developments that don’t make sense in terms of small things like, oh, time, logic, common sense. The actresses have several hysterically earnest dramatic exchanges that only show the weaknesses in De Palma’s lame and tragically tame script. There’s a love triangle that forms the central crux of the story but a lack of chemistry between McAdams, Rapace and the atrociously unappealing Paul Anderson makes it a bust. The big twist of the film happens too late to win back the audience and even then De Palma wastes an opportunity to turn the plot on its ear and go a different direction. Instead, the movie winds up exactly where you think it will with zero surprises along the way.
Though De Palma’s famous use of split-screen is employed here in a mildly successful manner, it only makes you think back to his previous work that capitalized on strong themes, a sense of urgency, and the energy of both cast and crew. In Passion, the entire film looks like it was made under the influence of sleeping pills…a tragedy when De Palma’s films used to keep us up at night.
Forget about it.
Pretend this movie never happened.