Film review Passion 2

At the Berlin office of a global advertising outfit, executive Christine (Rachel McAdams) has a twisted working relationship with her dedicated assistant Isobel (Noomi Rapace), showering her with affection while stabbing her in the back at every opportunity. When Isobel comes up with a successful campaign for a Jeans brand, Christine takes credit for the idea, winning her a promotion to head of the company’s New York branch. Isobel, following the advice of her smitten lesbian secretary Dani (Caroline Herfurth), lets the company CEO know that it’s actually her idea, denying Christine the promotion. Christine immediately sets about gaining revenge, using her most aggressive tactics yet.

American remakes of French films are nothing new, but Brian De Palma’s take on Alain Corneau’s 2010 thriller, Love Crime, is a curiosity. This isn’t a case of Hollywood acquiring a property; rather we have the producer of the original, Saïd Ben Saïd, performing the same duty for the remake. Instead of relocating the events from France to the U.S, De Palma’s version moves the story next-door, to Germany. Saïd may have believed there was room for improvement over Corneau’s film, but De Palma makes few changes to the original script. What little tampering he does make, serves to make the story unintentionally laughable, as he injects a tawdry lesbian sub-plot which comes off like the fantasy of a 14-year-old boy.

Rapace is watchable as always but McAdams is badly miscast and at least ten years too young for the character. Anyone who saw Corneau’s film can’t help but recall Kristin Scott Thomas’ memorable take on the same character. McAdams pales in comparison. Fans of De Palma will note a suspicious resemblance between McAdams and his ex-wife, and star of several of his films, Nancy Allen.

De Palma frames his shots almost identically to those of the original but throws in a split screen sequence which seems gratuitous until its part in the mechanics of a final twist is revealed. It’s a neat trick from a film-maker known for his cinematic sleight of hand. As a director, he’s still got it, but the former “Movie Brat” insists on adapting the script himself. Writing has never been De Palma’s strength and that’s all too obvious here. The character of Dani is shoehorned into the story for two reasons: provide some sleaze, and act as a vessel for expository dialogue.

Considering Passion marks the return of such an iconic film-maker, it’s sad that the most lingering images are those of blatant product placement. Worst of all is a brazen shot which zooms slowly into a laptop lid until the Apple logo completely fills the screen. Perhaps De Palma’s talents are now more suited to Madison Avenue?

Upcoming DVDs
Here are my recommendations for the must-see movies hitting DVD in the coming weeks.

Spring Breakers (August 12th)
Possibly the most divisive movie of 2013, this tale of girls gone wild is a day-glow riot. If you have a teenage daughter, you may never allow her leave the house after watching this.

Compliance (August 19th)
If you rent one movie in August, make it Compliance. Based on the true story of a sociopath who terrorized America by phoning fast-food restaurants posing as a cop, this independent feature proves truth is often stranger than fiction.

Love Is All You Need (September 9th)
Pierce Brosnan proves adept at comedy in a rom-com that possesses both heart and brains.

By Eric Hillis