Movie Reviews

‘Passion’: Not meant to be

By Melissa ZhuoMovies - 31 October 2013 12:00 AM | Updated 5:24 PM

‘Passion’: Not meant to be

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Rating: 0.5 / 5

Many terms were used to describe ‘Passion’ — a ‘convoluted French-German-Spanish-British erotic movie’, a ‘lesbian film’, a ‘thriller’. But ‘passion’ was definitely not one of them.

The plot is simple enough. Director Brian De Palma takes French thriller, ‘Love Crime’, and places it within the context of the Berlin branch of a multinational ad-agency.

There, beautiful and ambitious alpha executive Christine (Rachel McAdams) grooms her shy but creative assistant Isabelle (Noomi Rapace), who comes up with a radical campaign idea that impresses the New York head office.

However when Christine takes credit for Isabelle’s idea in the hope of landing a promotion to New York, Isabelle reels in the betrayal and plans her revenge. Humiliation, blackmail and tension boil over and culminate in a gruesome murder (or two, or more).

One of our bigger complaints is the context. An advertising firm as the film’s setting held so much promise, offering the perfect scenario of sleek surfaces that hide brewing anxieties and stress between over competitive creative types.

However, inconsistencies such as the convoluted locales, the over-sexualised employees, the impressively unimpressive pitch idea, unbelievably high-res cell phone videography and ridiculous ’90s mod style offices, make you question the purpose of the chosen environment. Things felt hastily assembled and this over-emphasis on form did nothing to restore any substance.

We were hoping that the casting of McAdams and Rapace could lend the film some saving grace, but even they seemed like they were not meant to/did not want to play these shallow and predictable characters.

McAdams looked almost awkward in her unconvincing portrayal of the conniving Christine, and Rapace’s acting made her look like a daytime soap opera amateur.

Even more excruciating is the chemistry between the two of them (or the lack there of) where the said sexual tension is comparable to the campy lesbian innuendos from 1999 cult classic, ‘Showgirls’.

The coup de grâce is the unfortunate script adapted by De Palma, plagued by clichés like “revenge is a dish best served cold” or “no backstabbing, it’s just business”, that allowed McAdams and Rapace little or no creative flexibility.  

The film comes off as a good old harmless, forgettable, vampy, lesbian erotic thriller that has been over spiced with the director’s known techniques.

This film probably only appeals to diehard De Palma fans willing to forgive anything, the only demographic this half-starred atrocity seems to perversely cater to.

‘Passion’ opens in cinemas 31 October