Cast: Rachel McAdams, Noomi Rapace, Paul Anderson, Karoline Herfurth
Running time: 105 mins
The lowdown: Brian De Palma is a long way from his glory days with this latest clunker. Attempting to recapture the dark eroticism of Dressed to Kill, he ends up floundering in a sea of Body Doubles and Femme Fatales. Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace are warring advertising colleagues locked in a deadly psychosexual game of cat-and-mouse, but the only thrills to be had are from the unintentional chuckles. A rush remake of the French film Crime d’Amour starring Kristin Scott-Thomas and Ludivine Sagnier, this is not De Palma’s worst (that’s still Mission To Mars) but the director has truly lost his (Carlito’s) way.
The full verdict: Passion plays like a rediscovered Euro-trash soap opera starring American actors before they went on to better things.
Presumably Crime d’Amour was good enough to get Brian De Palma’s attention, but his movie (from a self-penned script) smacks of an old timer attempting a young man’s game.
Despite latest technology courtesy of heavily product placed Apple and Panasonic gadgets, and talk of ad campaigns going viral, every note rings inauthentic.
Not that this should be a problem. De Palma seldom does gritty realism and after Scarface real life coke dealers bent themselves to fit the director’s vision.
But, the impression is the filmmaker behind Carrie, Blow Out, The Untouchables and other greats has ironically lost his passion.
A perfunctorily told plot has a miscast Rachel McAdams as Christine, a high-powered advertising exec based in an Italian branch of her New York company. Noomi Rapace is Isabella, her protégé then rival after Christine steals her concept for a jeans commercial (yes, really).
But, Isabella is sleeping with Dirk (Anderson, replacing Dominic Cooper), Christine’s sexual plaything. Soon enough it’s catfights (and Sapphic suggestions) at dawn, with murder and Isabella’s overly protective assistant Dani (Herfurth) also thrown in.
Clearly attempting to retread the noir furrow he unsuccessfully ploughed in Femme Fatale, Passion would love to be the Wachowski’s Bound. But, the movie is hamstrung by De Palma’s disinterest and McAdam’s no-nudity clause, leaving audiences hoping for erotic thrills empty handed.
Visually the director cannot summon one memorable experience to match even the single-take opening shot of his notorious flop The Bonfire of the Vanities. Split screen and extended POV shots are pale retreads of glorious moments found in Carrie and Dressed To Kill, while the dream-real-dream shock shtick has been worn smooth.
McAdams attempts to enter the spirit of things with a pantomime villainess performance, while Rapace looks like she wants a stern word with her agent. The hard-faced Anderson (making this a Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows reunion hat trick) also sits sorely out of place as the pleasure toy of both women.
A bungled office meeting scene with Isabella laughing at her own humiliation at Christine’s hand depressingly echoes the clapping scene from Birdemic.
There are sex toys and creepy masks, twists and turns, twin sisters and revenge. But, what lingers is the yawning credibility gap you could pilot a once-glittering career through.