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Movie review: ‘Passion’

Posted 4:42pm on Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013

R (sexual content, strong language and violence); 102 min.


Passion is Brian De Palma’s teasing, overripe remake of the forgettable French thriller Love Crime. With its broadly drawn characters, erotic hints of homo- and heterosexual betrayal and lethal corporate intrigues, it’s a competent take on material that may have seemed more current and scandalous in France (in 2010) than it does in America.

The hook here is that the corporate folks seducing, stealing credit from and back-stabbing each other are women.

Isabelle (Noomi Rapace) is a European ad exec who, with her provocatively dressed assistant (Karoline Herfurth), cooks up an account-saving cellphone campaign based on what the camera on that phone catches when a good-looking woman leaves it on in the back pocket of her tight jeans. Video of men spraining their necks as they turn around to check out the woman’s bottom becomes a viral sensation.

But the moment this winning pitch is made, Isabelle’s American boss Christine (Rachel McAdams) takes credit for it. Isabelle seems overmatched against the composed, ruthless Christine. Revenge comes only after serious study.

Isabelle dallies with Christine’s corporate beau (Paul Anderson). It backfires and Isabelle cracks up. And that’s when things get real.

The dialogue, straight out of the Bette Davis/Joan Crawford era of epic Hollywood cat fights, leans toward “You’re more like me than you think,” with the actresses — McAdams especially — wearing their best “Of course you know this means war!” scowl.

De Palma flirts with the lurid and tosses in some interesting third-act surprises, but never finds his way back to the sexually charged tone and shocks of his earlier thrillers (e.g. Dressed to Kill).

As with much of the director’s recent work, like Black Dahlia and Femme Fatale, Passion is the very thing this movie lacks.

— Roger Moore, McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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