PassionOriginal Release: August 30, 2013 (United States)
Directed by: Brian DePalma
Written by: Brian De Palma, Natalie Carter
Produced by: Saïd Ben Saïd
Running Time: 102 minutes
"Passion" follows Berlin-based powerful advertising honcho Christine (Rachel McAdams) and her meek assistant Isabel (Noomi Rapace), whose attempts to forward her career are constantly hampered by her boss' power-hungry antics. As Isabel grows desperate to wrestle some modicum of control when Christine takes credit for one of Isabel's ideas, their rivalry escalates from mistrust to public humiliation to murder.
Cast & CharactersRachel McAdams (Christine), Noomi Rapace (Isabelle James), Karoline Herfurth (Dani), Paul Anderson (Dirk), Rainer Bock (Inspector Bach), Benjamin Sadler (Prosecutor), Michael Rotschopf (Isabelle's Lawyer), Max Urlacher (Jack), Dominic Raacke (J.J. Koch), Trystan W. Putter (Eric), Ian T. Dickinson (Detective)
Production NotesWith "Passion", De Palma puts his own twist on the latest incarnation of the thriller: the corporate thriller set against our 21st Century enthrallment with money, power, image and control. But this deadly corporate battle unfolds between two beautiful, complicated, ambitious women who have taken the gloves off and become as aggressive and merciless as any of their male higher-ups in the boy’s club. The film is De Palma’s remake of the late French filmmaker Alain Corneau’s final thriller, "Crime D’Amour", which was celebrated in Europe both as a compelling mystery and a darkly comical satire of corporate amorality. The film particularly stood out as a rare battle between two strong, even fearsome, female leads. "I was drawn to the story because it is a thriller, which to me is the best genre for visual storytelling, and I also felt it had that certain element of fun to it".
"In the original movie, Alain Corneau tiptoed around the sexual attraction between the characters. But Noomi Rapace and Rachel McAdams played it straight out. I did not say to them ‘kiss each other and be erotic.’ They just did it. And it was quite effective," he says, adding "Noomi and Rachel had already worked together on Sherlock Holmes and knew each other well enough that they were able to leave the comfort zone and venture into more dangerous territory. They were unafraid to go anywhere with each other, which makes their duet very dynamic and compelling to watch." To De Palma, Rachel McAdams had all the shadings needed to make Christine at once compellingly attractive, obsessively ambitious and capable of the most malevolent backstabbing. "Rachel is very sexy and she had great fun playing a very evil woman," says De Palma. "Actresses don’t always like to play manipulative women like Christine, but Rachel went all out for it." The director was further drawn to Noomi Rapace's ability to go to unsettling places. "Noomi can be very scary as Isabelle because you don’t really know what is going on her head and you believe she is capable of killing somebody," he remarks. For Rapace, the intrigue of the role lay in taking Isabelle further and further into the swirling morass of her ambition. She was especially drawn to the setting in an international ad agency devoted to the glossy imagery that fuels 24-7 consumer desire around the globe. "What’s interesting is that these characters are trapped in the world of advertising and commercials. It’s one of those worlds where you always need to be on top of your game and one step ahead in your ideas," she notes.
The meticulously stylized look of "Passion" hearkens back to Brian De Palma’s own undying passion for the formalist beauty of classic cinema. A life-long student of the movies, and of the world’s most influential directors, his films pay homage to, comment upon and sometimes subvert scenes that we have seen in legendary films of past eras. In keeping with his love of the sheer exquisiteness of Golden Age cinema, De Palma shot Passion on 35mm to retain that lushness only film can provide. To further emphasize the luminosity of his actresses, De Palma brought in cinematographer Jose Luis Alcaine, who is renowned for his vibrant, multi-chromatic work with Pedro Almodovar. The film was shot entirely in Berlin, although inside the sterile multinational tower where the characters work - or inside Christine’s sleek apartment and bedroom - the characters could be living in any modern metropolis anywhere in the world. The city not only provided De Palma with highly experienced crews for the production but with such eye-catching architecture. "These buildings really helped add to the ambience of the film," notes the director.
The early anticipation for the "new De Palma" was unfortunately cooled down after the film's world-premiere at the 2012 Venice Film Festival, where critics were rather dismissive towards the film and De Palma's style, especially in comparison to the celebrated original film. "Remaking Alain Corneau's 2010 French noir Love Crime proves less a comeback for De Palma and more what economists call a "dead cat bounce", wrote the Hollywood Reporter after the Venice premiere, while ScreenDaily wrote, that "the erotic thriller turns limp in Brian de Palma’s latest take on the genre, where even the sexual decadence is of the clichéd lace and carnival-mask variety, and the high-profile casting of Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace in the two main roles works a lot better on paper than it does in practice. Returning to the territory of Dressed To Kill and Body Double, the veteran US director finds surprisingly little to add to his source material." "Passion" was released in European countries in 2013 to equally mixed reviews and received a theatrical release and VOD release in the USA in Augut 2013.