Passion (R)

Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace star as corporate rivals playing head games with each other in 'Passion.'
Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace star as corporate rivals playing head games with each other in 'Passion.'
eOne Entertainment

Movie Info

Rating: * * 

Cast: Rachel McAdams, Noomi Rapace, Karoline Herfurth, Paul Anderson.

Writer-director: Brian De Palma. Based on the film “Love Crime” by Alain Corneau.

Producer: Said Ben Said.

An eOne Entertainment release. Running time: 102 minutes. Vulgar language, sexual situations, brief violence, gore. In Miami-Dade only: Koubek Center.

In Passion, Brian De Palma attempts to bring his trademark style of psycho-sexual thrills to the arena of corporate politics. The result is a ridiculous but entertaining mess. The movie teeters on the edge of camp for awhile, then plunges in headlong. Christine (Rachel McAdams), a high-ranking executive at an advertising firm based in Berlin, encourages and mentors her protege Isabel (Noomi Rapace), then happily takes credit for all her ideas. “There’s no backstabbing here,” a smiling Christine tells her furious pupil. “We’re on the same team.”

But Isabel is no angel, having already slept with Christine’s boyfriend Dirk (Paul Anderson) before the boardroom betrayal. A series of increasingly elaborate power plays between the women ensue in which everything is fair game. McAdams’ lip-smacking performance as the conniving Christine is one of the movie’s chief pleasures. Energized by the opportunity to play something other than a romantic love interest, the actress radiates a predatory cunning; you can’t tell when the character is being honest (answer: practically never). Christine is all wolfish grins, deathly glares and, when she doesn’t get her way, petulant fits and elaborate paybacks. Passion is a remake of Alain Corneau’s 2010 French-language thriller Love Crime, in which Kristin Scott Thomas played Christine, and the highest compliment you can pay McAdams is that she holds her own against Thomas.

Unfortunately, Rapace ( The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Prometheus) doesn’t fare as well. Her stilted line readings and shrill, blatantly fake bursts of laughter make Isabel come off as something of an idiot. Rapace takes the material too seriously: She doesn’t have fun with it, and De Palma, who has traditionally drawn great performances from actresses ( Carrie, Dressed to Kill, Blow Out, Femme Fatale), fails to get Rapace to loosen up.

The first half of Passion, which was shot by José Luis Alcaine ( The Skin I Live In), is filled with brightly lit scenes and extraordinarily vivid colors (the use of red is particularly striking, if a bit obvious). But once the story takes a crazy turn, everything suddenly goes dark, as if someone at the ad agency had forgotten to pay the light bill, and De Palma goes so crazy with the Dutch angles, the camerawork becomes a distraction.

Instead of contributing to the suspense, De Palma’s direction keeps pulling you out of the movie. Passion contains one of the most harebrained uses of a split screen I’ve ever seen — a heartbreaking choice by a filmmaker who was a master of the device. De Palma’s fumbled attempts to explore his longstanding theme of voyeurism via modern technology — cellphones, web cams, Skype — are more than a little sad. His decision to throw in some sexual kinks feels gratuitous and desperate, and the story’s sapphic undertones eventually take over the movie with unintentionally comic consequences.

But in the film’s last 10 minutes, De Palma goes for broke with one of his masterful setpieces, largely devoid of dialogue and heavy on Pino Donaggio’s perfectly overwrought score, that proves he remains a master of technique. The sequence is preposterous and far-fetched, but it is also wonderfully dumb, trashy fun, and by that point in Passion you take what you can get. The director even resorts to the “It was only a dream!” finale of Carrie and Dressed to Kill, but with a gruesome little twist. De Palma used to be accused of ripping off Hitchcock. Now he’s ripping off his own movies. What Passion ultimately lacks most, ironically, is passion, the artistic fervor that distinguished all his best pictures. This one feels like a throwaway by a gifted filmmaker who has run out of ideas.

Read more Reeling with Rene Rodriguez stories from the Miami Herald

 <span class="cutline_leadin">What’s the secret?</span> Karen Gillan and Brenton Thwaites are a brother and sister trying to solve the mystery of a demonic mirror in ‘Oculus.’

    Oculus (R)

    Mirrors have been as much of a fixture in horror movies as knives and cats that suddenly jump from the shadows. But they’re best in cameos, as in the ending of Dressed to Kill or the bathroom scene in The Shining. Oculus revolves entirely around an ornate mirror that is, what, a gateway to hell? A summoning force for evil spirits? A really ugly piece of furniture from a medieval Pottery Barn?

Iko Uwais and Cecep Arif Rahman square off in a scene from ‘The Raid 2.’

    The Raid 2 (R)

    Every time you think The Raid 2 can’t possibly top itself, writer-director Gareth Evans goes “Oh, yeah? Watch this.” Most of 2011’s The Raid: Redemption took place inside a tenement raided by a SWAT team to apprehend a mobster and his squad of killers holed up inside. Practically no one survived the movie — the violence was astonishing — but the contained setting and the idea of having events grow hairier for the good guys the higher they went in the building gave the tight 101-minute movie a sense of compressed, relentless action. Now comes The Raid 2 (known as The Raid 2: Bernadal in its native Indonesia), which is far more expansive and complicated, and runs almost 2 ½ hours. Miraculously, the new picture makes the old one feel like Evans was just warming up.

A sexual addict (Charlotte Gainsbourg) visits a therapist (Jamie Bell) with unorthodox methods to try to help get over her compulsion in ‘Nymphomaniac: Vol. 2’

    NYMPHOMANIAC VOL. 2 (unrated)

    Nymphomaniac Vol. 2 (unrated)

    Things get really kinky in Nymphomaniac Vol. 2, the second chapter in director Lars von Trier’ epic-length saga about a woman who can’t get enough. If you saw Vol. 1, which ended with our perpetually horny heroine Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) losing all feeling in her sexual organs, you might be wondering, “How could this movie outdo the first one?” To quote the great Bachman-Turner Overdrive, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category