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in defense of
‘PASSION’, The New Film From Brian De Palma

I’ve never been an apologetic Brian De Palma fan and I’m not about to start apologizing.  Recognized and celebrated by many a film geek, and seemingly the entire country of France, De Palma makes polarizing films that often split audiences and critics down the middle.

His latest release, Passion, is no exception.  It’s a kaleidoscope of the auteur’s prominent themes and performed tricks.  It too, is not for everyone.

This new “erotic thriller” has current Rotten Tomatoes score of 36%, but I’d be willing to bet it only fuels DePalma’s indifference.  Passion presents some sly critique on technology’s ability to make anybody an entertainment content creator.

I highly doubt he cares about technology’s influence on the anybody-can-be-a-film-critic world wide web.

If at all, Passion is only slightly disappointing in that it’s less erotic, violent and gory than what one would expect from the director.  At first glance it could have benefited from a more exploitive take on what it teases.  Thankfully, there’s enough De Palma in spades to keep the film incredibly outlandish, and as a result, guilty-pleasure entertaining. 
Some of the vintage DePalma elements in Passion include:
The centerpiece of the new film uses a technique that goes back to his early films.  It’s an incredibly suspenseful, and audience-deceiving shift between a performance of the Jerome Robbins ballet AFTERNOON OF A FAUN and, of course, a murder.
Honestly, I gave up trying to count the number of times De Palma pulls the “it’s just a dream” trick in this new film.  But I’ll be damned if I didn’t fall for it each and every time.  Who’s to say the entire film isn’t one big dream sequence. 
De Palma likes his femme fatales as beautiful as they are cunning.  No exception here, with some beautifully filmed (not to mention costumed) performances from Rachel McAdams, Noomi Rapace and Karoline Herfurth.

There’s a literal sisterly twin (or is there?) right out of De Palma’s Sisters and there’s the thematic twin envy in the workplace that drives the backstabbing antics.  Even the movie itself, though, is a twin.  It is a remake of the 2010 French film Crime d’amour.

De Palma turns the conventions of Film Noir on its ass again and again.  Passion is the sort of mystery whodunnit that’s rarely made these days, complete with a explanation of the crime ending that makes no more sense than the time he did it in Mission: Impossible.

The music score by frequent collaborator Donaggio (Raising Cain, Body Double, Carrie, Blow Out) is delightfully appropriate.

He’s never shied away from inspiration from Alfred Hitchcock, from plot inspirations to casting to full out tribute, but watch for some great in-joke moments in Passion, including an exact reproduction of a set up from Psycho.
Really, what more could a Brian De Palma fan ask for?

PASSION is now playing in limited release in the US.  The movie is also available On Demand (check your cable VOD listings), iTunes and Amazon Instant Video.

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