MIFF 2013: Passion

29 Jul

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By M.0’Callaghan 

Brian De Palma’s newest film, Passion, plays out like a buffet of all of his peccadilloes, trademarks and favourite cinematic flourishes. Everything you have seen before in a De Palma movie is on display in Passion — split-screens, kinky sex, voyeurism, beautifully composed shots; about half way through the film every shot is suddenly coated in wonderfully Noir-ish shadow — the director is obviously having a fantastic time with the piece, and an open minded audience should also love every minute.  

Passion stars Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace as, respectively, the head of a Berlin based advertising agency and an up-and-coming creative hire. Deeply involved in the advertising campaign for a new Smartphone, the drama begins in earnest when McAdams takes credit for successful ad-campaign initiated by Rapace; the tension compounded by the fact Rapace is having an affair with McAdam’s sometimes-boyfriend.  

It should come as no surprise to long time admirers of cinema’s most enthusiastic voyeur, the Smartphone, specifically the smart phone camera, plays a major role in the unfolding, serpentine plot, glorious executed by De Palma and assuredly handled by most of the cast.  Rachel McAdams has her tongue very softly planted in her flawless cheek, which suits the melodramatic tone of the piece. Rapace is her usual glorious self as the enthusiastic up-and-comer, adoring of her mentor yet wonderfully hiding her true motives.

Some people may be put off by the slightly playful narrative, but De Palma is the master of tight roping tight, taut tension with self-aware melodrama. Not self aware in a yawn inducing post-modern Wink-Wink manner either, but the inherent silliness of some of the scenes are deliberate and well maintained.

Some will probably dismiss this as a trite, trivial throwaway but for fans of a well executed, tightly constructed thriller, and particularly fans of De Palma, will be rewarded with his latest. 

M.0’Callaghan has written for Fiend Magazine, Atomic Threat and Goth Nation and studied Cinema at Flinders University before moving to Melbourne and working for local independent film company Surface Tension Pictures and Thai film company Red Bamboo.

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