This review was written 2 years too late
“Passion” sees Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace as boss and junior respectively of a Berlin-based ad agency. McAdams is your typical tough, career climber while Rapace is her meek yet talented underling who may just usurp her.
Based on the 2010 French thriller “Crime d’amour“, “Passion” is a pretty basic thriller about competitive people taking one-up(wo)manship to its extremes. As each tries to steal the advantage, the other resorts to increasingly severe tactics culminating in, dare I say it, murder!
If you know De Palma’s work, you’ll recognise the format – the blurring of sexuality, surveillance and voyeurism, distrust and uncertainty, and visual set-pieces.
What works is the updating of surveillance and communication to have some relevance to today – in-phone video capture and Skype replace the hand-glued film/sound editing of “Blow Out” (1981) or the time-lapse photography in “Dressed to Kill) (1980). In addition, De Palma delivers a number of stylish eye-candy moments, one featuring a strangely compelling split-screen sequence of a straight-to-camera ballet performed on the left while the film continues on the right. Sounds weird, but it works.
On the down side is the acting, with both McAdams and Rapace never convincing in their roles, McAdams especially trying to be an über-bitch but just not making the grade. Nor do they generate any erotic sparks, seeing as “Passion” seems to want to be an erotic thriller. It’s just too flat.
Overall, it’s a lot better than De Palma’s last mainstream works – the forgettable “Femme Fatale” (2002) and disappointing “The Black Dahlia” (2006) – but you can’t help wondering who keeps putting up the cash for his welcome visual indulgences but less welcome unlikely plots and cardboard acting?