REVIEW: Passion

6 08 2013

PassionI don’t even know where to begin with Brian DePalma’s “Passion,” an instant contender for the worst movie of 2013.  It’s one of the tackiest and most tasteless films I’ve ever seen, an exploitative B-movie that tries to masquerade as something classier.  It isn’t.

Though it cries to be taken seriously as an art film, I place “Passion” next to “The Hangover Part III” in terms of a disturbing trend from summer movies in 2013.  Both films take an undercurrent of same-sex attraction from their prior incarnations (for “Passion,” this is a well-made French thriller from 2010 called “Love Crime“) and turn into ridiculous and overt subject matter.  While the relationship between manipulative boss Christine and her brilliant protege Isabelle had some tension in the original film, it’s to the point of full-on make-outs and lesbian love declarations.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  However, we don’t live in a time where homosexuality needs to be transmuted into some exotic abnormality, so the campiness of “Passion” plays as somewhat offensive and insensitive.  Noomi Rapace at least plays Isabelle with some grounding in reality. Rachel McAdams’ Christine, on the other hand, is played with all the gusto of her iconic Regina George from “Mean Girls” but with all the energy channeled into making her an insatiable sexual animal.

Although to put the blame for “Passion” on the shoulders of its two leading ladies is unfair.  The movie is a mess because of director Brian DePalma, whose attempts at Adrian Lyne-esque steaminess or Wachowskian cerebral thrills just fall flat on their face.  His adaptation of “Love Crime” drains every ounce of subtlety from the story, turning a tale of professional rivalries turned criminal into crazy lesbian bloodlust (to be short and blunt about what this film is).

“Passion” aims for somewhere between Stanley Kubrick’s “Eyes Wide Shut” and Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan” but falls firmly into the territory of unintentional farce destined for the $2 DVD bin at CVS Pharmacy.  D+1halfstars

REVIEW: Love Crime

31 07 2013

Love CrimeAlain Corneau’s “Love Crime” is one of those rare slow-burn thrillers that delivers in the end.  (Perhaps I need to start watching more French movies, because American ones that try this seem to fail more often than succeed.)  The film is rather understated, never succumbing to easy sensationalism – although that didn’t stop me from thinking it was lurking around every corner.

“Love Crime” is particularly intriguing to watch unfold because its main character, Ludivine Sagnier’s Isabelle, is so enigmatic.  Her actions are puzzling because she seems to be setting herself up for an unnecessarily tough short game in order to win in the long game.  Saviginier clues us into the fact that Isabelle has a very sneaky master plan up her sleeves, but we’re left guessing as her introversion gives us little to work with.

Her boss Christine, played by Kristin Scott Thomas in a hint of what was to come in “Only God Forgives,” sets Isabelle up for madness and retaliation by exploiting her work at the ad agency.  Their relationship, while clearly hostile and imbalanced, could have been explored a little bit more to really make “Love Crime” a steamier and more intense thriller.  Even as is, however, Corneau’s final film is one worth watching because its conclusion delivers when it needs to.  B2halfstars