Brian De Palma’s ‘Passion’ is mostly just for fans

Noomi Rapace and Rachel McAdams play dueling ad whizes in Brian De Palma's "Passion." Credit: Entertainment One Films US
Noomi Rapace and Rachel McAdams play dueling ad whizes in Brian De Palma’s “Passion.”
Credit: Entertainment One Films US

‘Passion’
Director: Brian De Palma
Stars: Rachel McAdams, Noomi Rapace
Rating: R
4 (out of 5) Globes

It’s been a decade since the last “proper” Brian De Palma film, which is to say one up to his seductive, pervy and not always logical standards. The new “Passion” — just like 2002’s even more insane “Femme Fatale” — has been widely acknowledged as a fans-only enterprise, frustrating to innocents expecting a straight-ahead thriller that makes sense. (In between have been the unloved, though hardly worthless, runts “The Black Dahlia” and “Redacted.”) But it’s not that weird. Only in its final stretch should non-die-hards be lost, namely once characters are seen repeatedly bolting awake, sweat-drenched, from apparent nightmares — just like in one of the director’s most hated (but brilliant) ventures, “Raising Cain.”

Till then, “Passion” is a surprisingly sort-of-faithful remake. The 2010 French film “Love Crime,” from the late Alain Corneau, is the text, which told of an ad exec (Kristin Scott Thomas) stealing a campaign idea from her mousy but furtively ambitious — possibly even vengeful — assistant (Ludivine Sagnier). De Palma is himself about to be remade, with yet another go at his 1976 blockbuster “Carrie.” As though knowing this — and having done his own riffs on Hitchcock and even Michelangelo Antonioni — he respects the source he reworks while furiously tacking on his own imprint. Here, the actresses are of the same age: Rachel McAdams is the boss and Noomi Rapace her aggrieved underling. This being De Palma, the plotting is a bit more tangled, and the girls make out a lot more.

If “Passion” teems with De Palma’s thematic obsessions — chiefly sex, love and relationships as business transactions, changing along with an evolving playing field — it takes an hour for his visual tics to crop up. There’s a split-screen sequence for the ages, but it’s held off. And his usually wandering camera is oddly locked down. The passion, as it were, comes through largely in the performances. McAdams, summoning her “Mean Girl” villain, is vampish and Telemundo, hurling objects when pissed and throwing multiple exclamation points into her purple sentences. Rapace is all seething jealousy and creepy laughing faces. Only as the story goes nuts does De Palma, the maker of sensuous, show-off camera moves and ecstatic editing coups, truly join in their fun.

It’s been sad to watch mass culture move away from De Palma, even as it finally catches up with certain once-hated efforts (“Blow Out,” “Scarface”). His Hitchcockian thrillers were once as mainstream as you got, even as they came ready to be picked apart by academics and those into that sort of thing. “Passion” works its maker’s production woes into its plot, which turns on Rapace throwing together an ad — an ass-cam commercial selling tight jeans— that is deemed by the powers-that-be as “too arty.” Frustrated at a looming crappy remake (with “real actors”), Rapace throws it online, where it becomes a viral sensation.

Not that De Palma was so cutting edge in real life. “Passion” came about by a more traditional alternative route: through European money. The commercial itself is arguably the most De Palma thing in the film: all mirrors and people standing on different planes, in a film whose shots are otherwise direct, almost meat-and potatoes. Not that this is another compromised work. It’s just one that is a little more open to fresh faces — even if by the final shot only the die hards are left smiling.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels Kansas concert, condition unknown,…

Singer Miley Cyrus was hospitalized on Tuesday night after suffering what is believed to be 'a severe allergic reaction' to antibiotics medication. The 21-year-old Bangerz…

News

Explosions in new Boston Marathon bomb panic, 'twisted'…

A fresh Boston Marathon terror alert, which caused Bomb Squad officers to order an evacuation while two controlled explosions were carried out, was today being…

National

Reddit boosts news capabilities in social media turf…

By Jennifer SabaNEW YORK (Reuters) - Reddit, a website with a retro-'90s look and space-alien mascot that tracks everything from online news to celebrity Q&As,…

Local

New York joins accord to strengthen popular vote…

New York State joined a nationwide effort that would gives the state's 29 electoral votes for president to the candidate who wins the national popular vote.

Entertainment

Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels Kansas concert, condition unknown,…

Singer Miley Cyrus was hospitalized on Tuesday night after suffering what is believed to be 'a severe allergic reaction' to antibiotics medication. The 21-year-old Bangerz…

Television

'Orphan Black's' Jordan Gavaris talks Felix's Season 2…

Jordan Gavaris plays heroically helpful foster sibling Felix to main clone Sarah on "Orphan Black." We talked to him about what’s ahead for him in…

Going Out

Accomplice Tour: New York (Spoiler Alert)

When I signed up for the Accomplice show tour, I had no idea what I was in for. But every grimy job comes with a great reward.

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, April 15: 'New Girl,'…

'New Girl' Nick and Jess are hiding their breakup from the other loft residents. And Winston passes the police academy exam! That guy needed some…

NBA

Nets miss chance to clinch No. 5 seed…

Nets head coach Jason Kidd expressed little concern after a 109-98 loss to the Knicks, but others seemed to disagree.

NFL

Jets confident despite Chris Johnson leaving with no…

Jets fans clamored for a playmaker on offense all offseason. It looked like they were going to land that player on Tuesday when Chris Johnson…

NBA

Knicks, Nets rivalry never materialized despite national attention

When the NBA schedule was released, the league anticipated an intense rivalry between the Nets and Knicks with all four games slated for national TV.

NBA

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could…

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could the Mavericks surprise?

Home

Steal home decorating tips from Nattystyle blogger Natalie…

Despite the towering ceilings and enviable exposed brick, it’s easy to see how Natalie Decleve’s apartment could be considered a challenge. Perched above the streets…

Home

How to plant a garden in the city

Small on space but big on gardening? You can still have that welcoming oasis of fresh air with an urban garden. Peter Smith, owner of…

Style

Personalize your massage at a private practice

CityTouch customizes spa treatments to meet client's needs.

Style

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show moving to England

It will still broadcast on CBS this fall.