A remake of the 2010 French film Love Crime, Passion burns in an advertising agency in Germany headed by Christine (Rachel McAdams, To the Wonder), a bratty, manipulative bitch who uses one of her creatives, Isabelle (Noomi Rapace, Prometheus), as a puppet.
When Christine takes credit for Isabelle’s idea for a smartphone campaign spot, it puts into motion of series of mind games and acts of one-upmanship, complicated by both ladies’ romantic involvement with an embezzling co-worker (Paul Anderson, The Sweeney).
Looking like a spread in a fashion magazine brought to live-action life, the film bears all of De Palma’s trademarks: elevators, stairwells, twins, wigs, voyeurism, sex games, tracking shots, split screens, the swells of a Pino Donaggio score and so on. The difference between this and his finest thrillers (Sisters, Dressed to Kill, Blow Out Body Double) is that Passion lacks his smart touch of the diabolic, resulting in scenes of unintentional humor.
For once, the filmmaker’s turns are not of the screw, but screwing the audience. Nowhere is this worse than with a trick he pulls on viewers that’s one of the oldest in the storyteller’s playbook. When he plays it the first time, the reaction is, “What a desperate cheat.” When he plays it a second time just a few minutes later, the reaction is, “Again? Seriously?”
And when he plays it a third time, in the film’s final shot, the reaction is unprintable. —Rod Lott
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