De Palma's Berlin bomb
Brian de Palma's new Berlin office melodrama delivers a big womp-womp in Passion.
Set in Berlin, Brian de Palma’s Passion deals in vengeance as career-minded exec Christine (a brazenly overstated Rachel McAdams) exploits her mousey but dedicated colleague Isabelle (Noomi Rapace), humiliating her in Sony Centre office spaces before welcoming her back into the fold with a well-timed come-on. Box office indifference greeted his recent films and De Palma is clearly trying for a return to the glossily sexed tensions of earlier masterpieces such as Dressed to Kill. His trademark use of split screens works well during one seminal scene but the plot is messily presented, the score mushy and the dialogue often campy and stilted.
Quoting Hitchcock’s use of a strangling scarf (from Dial M for Murder) only serves to highlight the master’s ability to transform a construct into a player. De Palma is satisfied with the scarf’s role as a prima facie prop that turns up like a bad penny as the movie loses itself in a miasma of self-enfolding dream sequences. And cue: audience laughter. Funny for all the wrong reasons, the Passion served here is stale fare indeed.
Passion | Directed by Brian De Palma (France, Germany 2012) with Rachel McAdams, Noomi Rapace. Starts May 2