Monday, 17 June 2013


From its opening shots to its closing, Passion has the timbre of hollow frivolity, po-faced but playful. A de Palma film only works when its cast and crew give their all and then some, and that can't be said of those involved in creating this film, a return to the Hitchcock-lite style of thriller with which he once attempted to make his name synonymous. The grandeur of the best of those is missing from Passion, but the gaucheness is not. Where once he used to coquet gracefully with sound and image and editing, crafting setpieces of ravishing and unparalleled complexity, the basic narrative of Passion (based on the French film Love Crime) denies him the opportunity to have his wicked way with this medium. Certainly, de Palma tries, and the final half hour is sprinkled with a few such impressive sequences, but these attempts at enlivening an inelegant film already cauterised by the ill combination of de Palma's trademark trickiness and a plot that mostly wants to head straight ahead (and with some force) are futile. And even he seems to slack when the moment arises, trimming down on the gimmickry when that was surely the only thing propping up films like Dressed to Kill and Femme Fatale. Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace bask in the artifice of it all, in the luxurious trashiness, and deliver gleefully theatrical performances; no doubt de Palma has no idea how to tutor an actor who's not in tune with his intentions, nor the desire! Pino Donaggio's obtrusive score is low art at its highest, and as ever one of the main reasons to seek out this de Palma film. The florid absurdity of much of the material (the ad campaign is a particular delight), treated with utmost sincerity, is just one of those things which one must abide with in de Palma's works, and you can either rail against it, or embrace it.