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Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace in “Passion”

Director: Brian De Palma

Passion is the kind of outrageous psychosexual noir that director Brian De Palma is famous for.  Adapted from the French film Love Crime, this erotic thriller depicts the increasingly hostile rivalry between ad exec Christine (Rachel McAdams) and her protégé Isabelle (Noomi Rapace).  What begins with a series of petty professional and romantic double-crosses (“It’s not backstabbing; it’s business,” says Christine, proving that shards of shattered glass-ceilings make excellent edge weapons) suddenly dements into a delirious mystery, once the women find themselves the subjects of a police investigation.  Betrayal, blackmail, seduction, infatuation, madness and murder all figure.  Often capricious and occasionally downright absurd, Passion possesses the lunatic spirit of De Palma’s classics, like Sisters and Carrie.  Unfortunately, McAdams was more threatening as the queen bee Regina George in Mean Girls.  Rapace’s performance is more colorful, but Isabelle’s unstable mixture of desperation and ambition never quite combusts.  Still, here is a work of uncompromising directorial moxie that unlocks like the door to a cracked funhouse of disguises and doppelgangers, fetishes and obsessions, traumas and psychoses.  As an addition to the filmmaker’s esteemed oeuvre, it’s a welcome throwback thriller that cackles gleefully.  Passion will remind viewers why De Palma was once considered New Hollywood’s pulpier answer to Alfred Hitchcock.


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