How does one describe the melange that is Brian De Palma’s “Passion”? “The Devil Wears Prada” reimagined as a film noir and shot in the style of 1980s French cinema du look? “Basic Instinct” with iPhones and Rachel McAdams (“Mean Girls”) as femme fatale? Or just another attempt by De Palma to recapture the fading “next Hitchcock” glory of his prime in the ’60s and ’70s?
|Rating||out of 5|
“Passion” is all the above, and also a remake of the 2010 French thriller “Crime d’Amour.” McAdams plays a ruthless and manipulative ad-agency boss, Christine, who has a thing for high-heels, blood-red lipstick and some kinky sex on the side. She’s an ice queen who alternately charms and abuses her ambitious underling Isabelle (Noomi Rapace), with occasional flashes of lesbian attraction flashing to the surface, but their rivalry will soon spin dangerously out of control.
De Palma keeps things fairly engaging for the first half, but for an erotic thriller it gets neither erotic nor thrilling enough, especially compared with earlier De Palma works such as “Dressed to Kill” or “Obsession.” An absolutely baffling denouement — of the “was it all just a dream” variety — makes this a frustrating watch, although the inventive, expressionistic visuals by Almodovar’s regular cinematographer, Jose Luis Alcaine, also ensure it’s a beautiful one.