It’s easy to get lost in beautiful women, architecture, style and acute aesthetics in Brian De Palma’s new film, “Passion”. Shot like a modern day film noir with use of shadows, color and lighting, the viewer is mesmerized by simple objects like a vibrant lipstick or an ornate watch worn by one of the lead characters. De Palma hasn’t lost any of his knack for creating exquisite visuals with closeups on his leading ladies played by Rachael McAdams and Swedish actress, Noomi Rapace, best known for playing the lead in the original, “The Girl With Dragon Tattoo”. The film which played at the Venice and Toronto film festivals, earlier this year, as well as this week at the 50th New York Film Festival, recently obtained a North American distributor, Entertainment One, which plans for an early 2013 release date.
“Passion” is a remake of an earlier French film, “Crime D’Amour” (“Love Crime), which starred Kristin Scott Thomas and was written and directed by Alain Corneau. Corneau worked on an American version of the film, and then handed it over to De Palma, who then wrote his own version of the original script. Interestingly, the original featured a mature advertising executive played by Thomas, against a younger creative within the firm, while the new version pairs McAdams and Rapace where the age gap is completely absent.
The film doesn’t take too long to jump head first into the plot about a head advertising executive, Christine, played by Rachael McAdams who has an affinity and very close relationship with a relatively new creative executive, Isabelle, played by Noomi Rapace. We quickly learn that Christine may have a more keener interest in Isabelle than just a working relationship. Confessing to Isabelle that all she wants is to be loved, Christine moves even closer to Isabelle sharing a childhood story involving the loss of a her twin sister and the absence of love she never received from her parents. While working on a new campaign for the latest smartphone, Isabelle, awakes in the middle of the night with a brilliant new ad campaign idea, which she then decides to shoot with the help of her assistant, Dani, played by the interesting and delightful, Karoline Herfurth. When the idea and ad are a success with a New York client, Christine decides to take credit for the idea, thus igniting a ping pong match of deception between herself and Isabelle. The stakes are high, and make no mistake, these women are professionals at getting what they want. From sleeping with another’s boyfriend to publicly humiliating the other, these women are literally out for blood.
McAdams is well cast as an icy executive who is good at manipulating whomever to get what she wants. Rapace is also a superb counterpart to McAdams, who initially appears buttoned up, but we quickly learn she isn’t any pushover, and has plans of her own in this tangled web that takes us into a vicious murder mystery. De Palma incorporates a few intimate kissing scenes between his two protagonists, but they are less lesbian, than they are a ploy by the women to deceive the other for their own interest.
Brian De Palma fans will become quick fans of “Passion”. Others will revel in the use of strategic filmmaking, which holds beautiful aesthetics, scenery and subtle body language, on par with storyline. De Palma recently said that he loves thrillers because they are almost like shooting a silent film. He can focus more on a character’s eyes, or the amazing architecture in Berlin, where the film was shot. Don’t get me wrong, the film builds to an exhilarating climax, where you are often wondering just what is real, what is desire, and ultimately, what do you believe to be the truth.