I watched Passion twice in a row a week ago and I think it's one of Brian De Palma's greatest films, probably his best film since his heyday in the seventies (my personal favorite has always been Obsession since viewing it on a VHS sometime during high school - interesting how both De Palma and Obsession's writer Paul Schrader have new films being released On Demand this month - speaking of which, The Canyons, which I also watched last week, also doesn't have a thread here).
I haven't seen the movie this is based on, Love Crime, but I thought Passion was wonderful and a lot of fun. Lush and sleazy, thematically rich, emotionally heightened, the "real" world be damned, visually gorgeous, surrealistic, everybody in glamorous wardrobe (I loved everything McAdams wore - very nineteen-fifties), and all of the aforementioned in service to a very tricky plot that I found incredibly exciting to watch unravel. Lord knows De Palma has fallen off this horse before, bringing operatic and real emotionalism to the thriller genre, but when he's on he really is working in a field all by himself. I loved this film.
Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace are a joy to watch - in every scene it's clear that they're just relishing the intense and overdone melodrama, both of them driving hysterical, theatrical life into the snide, scathing one-upmanship of their characters. They "overplay" in ways I wish more contemporary actors were given the chance to in contemporary cinema. It's an older, theatrical, deliberately stylish kind of performance. Had this been made in the thirties Greta Garbo and Joan Crawford (two of my favorite actresses) wouldn't have played these roles much differently.
Pino Donaggio's score oozes Romance, overt sleaze, and orchestral intensity, sometimes all in the same cue - at times you believe you're hearing a lost Bernard Herrmann theme or a strangely lush passage from 1970's giallo, at other times it sounds like 1990's soft core pornography music on Skinemax! (De Palma ought to helm an Emmanuelle remake and have Donaggio score it) I love this composer and he delivers here, but De Palma is known to give composers a canvas to really set loose on and this is no exception.
The cinematography is lovely and includes a
A breath of fresh, much-needed, completely off-the-wall, glorious air that emanates from a sort of filmmaking ether I really, really wish more directors were emerging from these days. This movie is insane and feverish, and in my opinion, just great.
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