One of my favorite genres in film is the thriller. From the days that Alfred Hitchcock pioneered the genre with his masterful works, to Oscar nominated flicks like Silence of the Lambs and The Sixth Sense, the thriller genre has always been one of the most interesting to watch. Thrillers can really get an audience invested mentally and emotionally in a great way, with the best bringing together a great storyline, memorable characters, and intense moments. To make a great thriller takes such a great level of precision and skill, which is why the genre has hit a bit of a rough patch in recent years. Aside from this year’s great Hitchcockian thriller Side Effects, thrillers like The Call, Now You See Me, and most recently Paranoia have been big misses. Trying to get the genre back on its feet is one of the genre’s most controversial names, Brian De Palma.
Brian De Palma is well known for creating the “erotic thriller” genre back in his heyday, along with directing the cult classic Scarface. De Palma for me as always been mixed, for every good film he has, he makes a movie like The Black Dahlia. Also, despite its following, Scarface for me is a terrible flick. Luckily though, Passion is Brian De Palma is him back in top form.
Passion follows the relationship between agency boss Christine and her protegee Isabelle, whose friendship soon escalates to a rivalry.
Brian De Palma is known as one of the best in this genre for a reason, and he shows off his skill here. De Palma is the type of director who truly has a great voice, meaning that you know when you are watching a film of his. De Palma seems like he is back in his element, using his great stylistic touches and unique perspective to create a film truly his own. The direction here is great, as the film moves at a great pace and never lags behind, which is something De Palma has struggled with at times.
The tone here is managed perfectly, which is tough to do for these type of erotic thrillers. Passion does a nice job of never taking itself too seriously, with a few good laughs in dramatic moments. These type of thrillers are known at times for being a bit too silly, and can even stretch the border of unintentionally hilarity, but Passion is also able to keep a straight face when need be.
The performances here fit the material nicely. Noomi Rapace is a very unappreciated actress in my opinion, and has shined in the limited roles she has had so far. Here, Rapace does a great job, being able to put up a professional type facade, but showing her true insecurities as a person. Rapace is able to show a bit of versatility, as her character evolves in many ways throughout the movie.
Starring alongside her is Rachel McAdams, who is delightfully evil in this movie. McAdams is really one of the best when it comes to playing a truly sinister character, as she showed in Mean Girls, and here she performs that in spades. Supporting actors Karoline Herfurth, Paul Anderson, and Rainer Bock do a solid job in their small roles in the film, too.
The script is very well done. De Palma’s adaption of the French thriller Crime d’amour is very well executed. Passion’s script does a nice job building up the tension, until it just implodes in the third act. The twists in the movie were well thought-out and made sense for where the film was going. The final third in general does a great job of just making the audience gasp at the twists and turns the film makes.
Where some of the film’s problems start to come up though is the final five minutes. While most of the twists up to that point are great, the film goes overboard at parts, having many different fake-out endings and so on. It just gets to a point where it becomes too much, and the film looses a bit of its form. It’s like if you took a piece of clay, and just tore it into little pieces.
Another complaint may seem a bit unfair, but the movie plays it safe with many aspects. Brian De Palma is stepping into very familiar ground here, doing the kind of film he has done before, and done better. The same goes for some of the actors and material, which all feel a bit familiar. It would have been nice to see De Palma try to stretch himself a bit more here, instead of doing another film that is safe for him. Then again, it’s better that he is back to doing good movies again.
While Passion does feel a bit safe and gets caught up in weeds, it’s an engaging and provocative thriller, and a welcomed return for Brian De Palma.
Take a Drink: for each plot twist
Take a Drink: during each provocative moment.
Do a Shot: for the scenes with the creepy mask.