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
International

Hurricane Odile batters Mexico's Baja resorts, sparks looting

Hurricane Odile injured dozens of people, forced the evacuation of thousands and smashed shops open to looters in the popular tourist area of Baja, Mexico.

National

Apple iPhone 6 pre-orders hit record 4 million…

By Lehar Maan(Reuters) - Apple Inc said many customers will need to wait until next month for their new iPhones after a record 4 million…

National

LAPD investigates complaint from detained 'Django' actress

The LAPD is investigating after "Django Unchained" actress Daniele Watts accused police of violating her rights when they detained her.

Local

Number of New York City smokers increase, topping…

For the first time since 2007, there are  more than one million smokers in New York City, according to the New York City Department of…

Movies

Newsflash: Corey Stoll is still not a man

In director Shaun Levy's "This Is Where I Leave You," Corey Stoll stars as the oldest of four adult children (the others are played by…

Movies

If you don't like Simon Pegg's new film,…

Simon Pegg goes all out in "Hector and the Search for Happiness" as the titular psychiatrist stymied by modern life who embarks on a globetrotting…

Arts

Art in Chelsea: Don't miss these 3 galleries

We selected three sure bets for seeing cool art in the galleries of Chelsea.

Music

Robin Thicke blurs lines further with new 'Blurred…

"The reality is," said Robin Thicke about "Blurred Lines" in a court deposition, "Pharrell had the beat and he wrote almost every single part of the song."

NFL

Tom Coughlin says Giants 'beat themselves' against Cardinals

Head coach Tom Coughlin, who had a day to cool off and reflect, still sounded like he had a gnawing feeling in his gut.

NFL

Marty Mornhinweg accepts blame for Jets timeout fiasco

Jets fans looking for a scapegoat for Sunday’s timeout fiasco found a willing party on Monday: Marty Mornhinweg.

NFL

3 things we learned in Jets loss to…

The wheels came off for the Jets, who gave up 21 unanswered points after a brilliant first 20 minutes in a 31-24 loss at the Packers.

NFL

Victor Cruz catches case of the drops in…

The Giants dropped a tough, 25-14, decision to the undermanned Cardinals Sunday in their home opener. And drop was the operative word of the day,…

Travel

World's most hipster cities: Top 5

Travel blogger Adam Groffman tells us his picks for the Top 5 most hipster cities in the world.

Education

The top 5 regrets recent high school grads…

College application season can seem like a blur for many students - as test prep, campus visits and filling out a seemingly endless stream of…

Parenting

Tech execs tend to limit their kids' screen…

You probably got your iPad before Bill Gates's kids did.

Wellbeing

Wellbeing: Daybreaker returns, Ray Rice jersey trade, Sweet…

  Now that Ray Rice is no longer with the Baltimore Ravens — or any other NFL team — after video footage surfaced showing him…