Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Brian De Palma's 'Passion' Film Review

Brian De Palma's 'Passion' is a dark thriller which draws on what the director is best known for: fleeting visual style, a dash of violence and overwhelming sexual tension.

Advertising executive Christine (Rachel McAdams) claims protege Isabelle's (Noomi Rapace) idea as her own, starting a dangerous journey of backstabbing, deceit and betrayal. Manipulative Christine uses her charm and seduction to get what she wants, but when her mind games crosses the line, Isabelle plots to gain revenge.

The movie grips you from the beginning with its intense and vivid visual style. Set in Berlin, with The Reichstag as a backdrop and inside Frank Gehry's AZ Bank, the triangulated planes of glass and the soft wood interior offer an ultra modern and 'bright' palette, which gradually descends into moody blue tones, increased contrast of light and dark and definitive streaky shadows that cover the latter half of the movie, which perhaps mirror Isabelle's gradual fracture of mentality. 

A particularly seminal sequence involves a split screen, with the soft fluid movements of a ballet to the left and shots of Christine preparing for bed mixed with flashes of Isabelle's close up as she watches the ballet to the right, which leads to the stylishly delicious murder with a bright splash of red.

The sexual tension and imagery is also found through select splashes of colour, from the bright red lips of Christine, who then puts lipstick on Isabelle, to Isabelle's red shoes, Christine's rouge gown, even the red hair of Isabelle's assistant. Though there is passion and lust, it's not the enjoyable kind and beneath the sexuality, there is an aggression, a power play, a symbol of dominance.

Deceit, deception and double-crossing are iconic to De Palma's characters that possess double motives. Isabelle and Christine at times seem like the same person, but here, in 'Passion', De Palma takes it a step further, incorporating hallucinations and dreams, which play with the audience's sense of reality. The delusion continues right to the explosive final sequence, leaving us to question: Is she really dead?


Rachel McAdams- Christine

Noomi Rapace- Isabelle

Also stars Karoline Herfurth and Paul Anderson.

Rachel McAdams makes a very grown up return to her Mean Girls' role (which is also De Palma's reason for choosing her), a beautiful, seductive and manipulative executive and does it extremely well much like a Basic Instinct's Sharon Stone. Noomi Rapace has a cold exterior which gradually breaks down and explodes with emotion and drama. 

'Passion' is a deliciously sexy and dark thriller which entices you from the beginning through to the end. Where it lacks in script is made up for in visual style. The deception and powerplay is heightened with delusion and duplicity which adds a level of questioning reality, and with an explosive climax, the film is a slick display of feminine drive and competitive destruction.

1 comment:

  1. Good review. De Palma obviously seems to love this material, problem is, it just doesn't go anywhere with itself.


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