"ENOUGH DREAMS-WITHIN-DREAMS-WITHIN-DREAMS-WITHIN-DREAMS TO MAKE NOLAN'S HEAD SPIN"
Jamie Dunn at Indiewire presents a self-described fan's view of Brian De Palma's Passion. After expressing disappointment a lack of "visual panache" in the first parts of the film (and attributing that to a lack of proper financing), Dunn writes the following:
"De Palma does eventually get to play, however. After one particularly cruel bit of theatre orchestrated by Christine to humiliate Isabelle, any relationship the film once had to realism goes out the window as Isabelle slips down a wormhole of depression and sleep deprivation. As she cracks, so too does the film. The angle on cinematographer José Luis Alcaine’s Dutch tilt is set to jaunty, and his lighting to expressionistic. Scene by scene the tone becomes more hallucinatory, and by the end of the film De Palma has bombarded us with enough feverish dreams-within-dreams-within-dreams-within-dreams to make Christopher Nolan’s head spin.
"How well you respond to this shift to a more outré style is likely to depend on how seriously you’ve been taking the film so far, but there are clues along the way that De Palma wants us to cackle along with his often demented vision – just check the scene where Isabelle discovers that Christine’s bathroom drawer is overflowing with kinky love making paraphernalia, including a porcelain mask that will have significance in a later scene. "In the end, though, this isn’t quite the comeback for which fans, myself included, had been hoping. Whatever your opinion of De Palma’s oeuvre, there’s no denying he’s a fine craftsman of trashy thrillrides. But when his cinema really sings, such as in “Dressed to Kill," his giddy serial killer sex farce, or paranoid political thriller “Blow Out," his sense for image, composition, and movement is as fine as any living filmmaker.
“Passion” has its moments: there’s a trademark De Palma split-screen, with the left-hand side showing a graceful ballet performance, while on the right a nerve-shredding dance of murder plays out. Later, there’s also a nifty ‘she’s behind you’ scare. But both have been used to better effect in “Sisters” and “Raising Cain." De Palma’s heart ultimately doesn’t feel fully in this film. What “Passion” is lacking is, ironically, some passion. [C+]"
Meanwhile, Cine Vue's John Bleasdale writes, "There are admittedly a couple of sequences within Passion that fans of the director will adore - a visit to the ballet is a particular high point - and De Palma adeptly uses music, this time provided by Pino Donaggio. Sadly, the renowned American director's latest film feels like an unambitious chamber piece, a folly with flashes of brilliance, but which ultimately won't be raising anyone's temperature."