Thanks to Arrow Video many of amazing auteur Brain De Palma’s early works such as Dressed to Kill and Blow Out have been rereleased on Blu-Ray recently letting us here at Love Horror revisit some classic thrillers from the master director, but what about his more recent work, I hear you shout.
After taking a break for 5 years Passion sees De Palma back in the directing chair with a remake of a 2010 French film named Love Crime seeing stars Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace take the lead roles in a story of money, sex, power and murder.
Set in an advertising agency based in Berlin Dragon Tattoo actress Rapace plays Isabelle an eager assistant to McAdams cut throat boss Christine. Although the pair start off as the best of friends after Isabelle out shines her mentor with the board of directors the lady boss bites back putting her in her place with a malicious and underhanded attack on her work and personal life.
Determined not to sit and take the humiliation Isabelle vows to fight back but the femme’s conflict soon proves fatal and when a murder is committed it is left to the police to unravel the pieces and work out what really went on between the warring women.
Essentially a thriller Passion like so many other De Palma movies feels Hitchckian in its story and set up yet taken to another level of excessiveness especially in its content. Voyeurism is rife throughout the film even in the advert Isabelle makes for a mobile phone company with modern technology used as much as possible to show how we are all being watched all the time.
A film primarily about power whether that be through money or sex Passion is made all the more interesting by having two female leads who are both high powered business women something not really dealt with in many mainstream movies.
Propelled forward by two great performances Passion sees both actresses interestingly playing against type with McAdams mainly known for her romance roles as the girl next door expertly inhabiting the mind and body of the determined and dangerous Christine who dominates in the boardroom and the bedroom with equal aplomb.
Rapace too embraces a different role with the shy and reserved yet desperate to succeed Isabelle completely opposite to the strong independent roles she has done previously and it is the sparring of these actors which provides the most entertainment and intrigue in the movie.
Plot wise Passion is not a patch on De Palma’s other work and stylistically as well it seems somewhat lacking. Like the story at the start things seem all too straightforward and the twists and turns we are used to in both the script and the camera work are truly missed.
This does change however after the wonderfully shot murder scene where De Palma’s trademark split screen makes a welcome appearance with the action cut down the middle between the bloody crime filmed in POV and a beautiful modern ballet piece where the dancers direct their performance straight at us in the audience.
From here things get a lot more interesting visually and for all the characters however it is a pity to have waited so long for the switch. Although not as good as many of his earlier films Passion contains two excellent actresses pushing there boundaries and proves De Palma still has some interesting ideas and stylistic flair left, let’s just hope we don’t have to wait so long for his next movie