MICAH GOTTLIEB: "GLEEFULLY OLD-FASHIONED PSYCHODRAMA"
Lindsey at Rachel McAdams Online has some new stills from Brian De Palma's Passion, some of which you can see below, along with a couple more courtesy Noomi Rapace Online. (Big thanks to Lindsey!)
We also have links to some more Passion reviews.
Tiny Mix Tapes' Micah Gottlieb:
"The hallmarks of Brian De Palma’s cinema du look — sweeping camerawork, narrative reflexivity, visual and verbal double entendres — are fully present in this gleefully old-fashioned psychodrama of high-business office politics, which doubles (oh, those doubles!) as a canny survey of modern technology’s manipulative power. A blonde (Rachel McAdams) and a brunette (Noomi Rapace) pithily jab at each other’s throats in a Berlin advertising agency, a dome of shimmering glass in which MacBooks, smartphones, and security cameras become agents of deception. As ever, De Palma’s images range from starkly artificial to gracefully restless, a stream undercut by the severe beauty of his actresses: the ghostlike McAdams and Rapace’s tight grin seem built from a century’s worth of repressed desires. Indeed, the film’s latter half turns dream-life into a shaggy dog story, lit through Venetian blinds, which finally unspools as one girl’s fantasy of entrapment, stuck in a reality where she can never truly get off. Who said De Palma isn’t a personal filmmaker? With the sultry score by De Palma vet Pino Donaggio and a typically mesmerizing split screen sequence, Passion finds the director delightfully riffing on himself."
At the Brian De Palma Discussion forum, "bdpinnyc", who caught the film at the New York Film Festival, wrote that Passion owes a lot to Robert Altman's 3 Women, a film that some have mentioned in connection to De Palma's Femme Fatale, as well. "Well, I liked it and am eager to see it again as I need to take it all in some more," wrote bdpinnyc. "As with any DePalma film, there is more than meets the eye. On first glance I do not think it's one of DePalma's finest works, but there [are] a lot of interesting things happening in it. Curiously, the first half of the film has been criticized by some as being too plodding or straightforward and the back-end is all crazy DePalma and exciting. I rather liked the first half! The satire of corporate politics and vicious back-stabbing was fun for me as a corporate guy myself.
"The second half gets really interesting but I think the film loses of a bit of focus. Again, I need to re-see it to clarify where dreams start and end... and start up again. I won't give away the ending except to say that it was so similar to Dressed to Kill that it made me slightly uncomfortable. Was it a parody? There's certainly a twist. But even the Pino Donaggio score (which I loved overall) employed the same music cues from Dressed to Kill. I will say, it seemed to lack the crispness of DePalma at his best, and yet, there were many fascinating ideas at work, so I don't want to imply that he's gone soft in any way. I'm actually happy to see that many of the critics in NY have responded well to the film."
Cutting Edge's Niko Hendrix groups Passion in with a "bizarre trio" alongside William Friedkin's Killer Joe and Francis Ford Coppola's Twixt, all movies that, for Hendrix, show that these film icons are not concerned about prevailing conventions, and seem to be subscribing to the motto, "It's better to burn out than to fade away." Contrary to bdpinnyc above, Hendrix found that after very stiff early going, "Passion stirs the pot turns into a dislocated fever dream that seems completely built from De Palma’s subconscious and its slivers of sardonic pleasure. Thus, with the exaggerated score of Pino Donnagio, the whole thing becomes a caricatural tongue-in-cheek atmosphere in which De Palma decomposes all his demons in a string of elegant setpieces."
Knack's Piet Goethals states that it is clear from the beginning that De Palma has thoroughly revised the script of Love Crime, although the first half stays relatively faithful to the original. Once the murder is introduced, writes Goethals, the film's style becomes "stylish in an expressionistic realism and nightmarish atmosphere, full of oblique angles, a pressing play of light and shadow, theater masks, twin sisters, split screen and high heels. All this is deeply lathered with a swollen soundtrack by Pino Donaggio, who in his composition brings a synthesis of Carrie and Dressed to Kill.
"Formally, it seems like a De Palma 'best of' of his most remarkable stylistic servings. What happens is quite grotesque. The very slow start to the massacre, split screen, the impressionistic mood shades of Debussy on the soundtrack and the parallel mounting between ballet and manslaughter, is vintage De Palma. And the final, which tends toward autoparody."
Nashville Scene's Jason Shawhan reviews the NYFF slate. "Speaking of amazing female duos," writes Shawhan, "Brian De Palma's Passion marks a delicious return to form for the master of art-sleaze. Noomi Rapace and Rachel McAdams play beautiful corporate warriors doing awful things to one another, and the end result is a delirious fusion of Assayas' Demonlover and Mean Girls."