FINAL SHOT WAS UNSCRIPTED, THROWN IN BY DE PALMA AT THE LAST MINUTE
A few more blog reviews of Brian De Palma's Passion have popped up, mostly from the New York Film Festival screenings. Films To See Or Not sounds like he was at one of the screenings where De Palma spoke to the audience. "Passion is Brian De Palma’s delicious homage to himself," he writes, adding that "De Palma enjoys playing with the audience right up until the end, when we’re left wondering what was a dream and what was real. He admits he threw in the unscripted final shot at the last moment as a tease. As long as you don’t take Passion too seriously, you’ll enjoy this retro throwback to Hitchcock and earlier De Palma."
30 Second Critic, who also liked the movie, seemed to enjoy the ending, as well. "Voyeuristic camera work along with a jarring score ratchet up the suspense," he writes, "and an altered ending from the French version keeps the viewer guessing even after the film ends. It's clear that Mr. De Palma likes to mess with his audience's head." 30 Second Critic also enjoyed the way the lead actresses seemed to play against type.
Cinespect's Cole Hutchinson, a self-proclaimed "De Palma admirer," says that Passion "manages to stand proudly amongst the best of [De Palma's] oeuvre." Hutchinson asserts that, like most of De Palma's films, Passion will please an audience simply seeking entertainment, while also offering layers of meaning for those interested in digging deeper. "This is a De Palma film that celebrates De Palma films while simultaneously mocking them," writes Hutchinson. "With spectacular performances across the board, an especially effective trademark split-screen moment, and the modern wit to suggest that the ubiquitous Apple laptop is the new symbolic phallus of easy power (also the tool of its eventual inevitable downfall), Passion is an exquisitely enjoyable summation of its director’s past triumphs streamlined into a sexy morality tale for today’s bizarre, superficial world."
Another self-professed De Palma fan, The Highlighter's Alex Greenberger, writes that "Passion is another defiantly satirical film from De Palma, and therefore it’s a work that’s sure to polarize for years to come. For De Palma’s fans (of which I am one), Passion is going to be an extremely rewarding experience, complete with diabolical lesbians, mistaken identities, twins and comments on gender roles. For his detractors, this will be another miserable failure, complete with awful dialogue, mediocre performances and baroque twists." Greenberger highlights that there are essentially two halves to the film. "For the first half, which may be a bit more stolid (and, as a result, a little less successful) than typical De Palma fare, it’s just one entertaining sequence after another. Passion, at its start, plays like a parody of workforce melodrama—something like Disclosure, maybe—with awesomely bad crying and a purposefully overconfident score from Pino Donaggio. Even the performances point to a masterful dissection of the melodrama—McAdams brilliantly says “Call me NEVER!” and throws her phone to the ground with such panache that it’s hard not to be entranced by the intentional mediocrity of this movie. But at a critical moment, one that of course involves a split-screen, since this is the world of Brian De Palma, the film snaps and becomes so formally refined—everything seems to click together at once, and the narrative dramatically perks up." Greenberger goes on to praise the split screen sequence and the cinematography: "It almost goes without saying that the split-screen sequence, which juxtaposes a Claude Debussy ballet with a complex murder and then proceeds to weave in and out of the murderer’s subjectivity, is stunning. But it’s José Luis Alcaine’s super-saturated photography that shines in this film. His beautiful, tight close-ups of the film’s plethora of ridiculous designer shoes are marvelous, but that, combined with De Palma’s directorial abilities, make this film yet another formally concerned (and successful) work."
Floating Heads' Cory Everett writes of De Palma, "After a half decade away from the camera, there’s a certain thrill in seeing the director get back to doing what he does best. In Passion, (a remake of the 2010 French film Love Crime), DePalma finds the perfect vehicle to indulge his cinematic obsessions." Everett echoes the idea that the film is split in half, writing that "the second half of the picture loses some of the trashy fun of the first half but replaces it with rococo camerawork, canted angles, split screens and a heavy dose of film noir lighting courtesy of cinematographer Jose Luis Alcaine (on loan from Pedro Almodovar). De Palma also recruits one of his longtime composers Pino Donaggio for a bombastic score. It’s a B-movie and minor work for the filmmaker but still a fair bit of fun for anyone who misses the the feel of those earlier works."
And finally, The Lumière Reader's Brannavan Gnanalingam has posted a late dispatch from Venice, where he experience the boos that greeted both Terrence Malick's To The Wonder and De Palma's Passion. However, while he was not surprised by the booing, Gnanalingam enjoyed both films quite a bit. "Full of narrative twists, femme fatales, double identities, and an absurd lack of subtlety," writes Gnanalingam, "it’s yet another homage to Hitchcock, in a career full of homage. The performances veered eerily close to parody (McAdams as the horrible boss almost fails to convince in her excesses, while Noomi Rapace plays it straight almost to the point of falling asleep), the setting was grand and sneeringly superficial, and the continual narrative contrivances drew laboured groans of agony from some critics. All of this said, it was all rather fun."