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Film / Passion

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Isabelle (left) and Christine (right.)

Passion is a 2012 thriller film by Brian De Palma, starring Rachel McAdams, Noomi Rapace, Karoline Herfurth, and Paul Anderson. It was nominated for the Golden Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival, but received unenthusiastic reviews from movie critics.

A remake of the 2010 French film Love Crime (2010), the plot concerns the relationship between the head of a highly successful advertising company, Christine (McAdams) and her right-hand woman, Isabelle (Rapace). At first they seem to get along well, but Christine's treatment of Isabelle becomes increasingly unacceptable. When Isabelle retaliates, things escalate and a major character is found murdered.

This film provides examples of:

  • Ambiguously Gay: Christine at first seems to be this, as men appear to annoy her or fail to satisfy her, and moreover, she proclaims her love for Isabelle, though it's almost certainly false. She does have an obvious physical attraction to her, though.
  • Caught on Tape: Everything that Isabelle does in preparation for the murder, including the act itself, are revealed to have been recorded secretly by Dani.
  • The Chessmaster: At first it's Christine... Then it's Isabelle... And ultimately it's Dani! Isabelle manages to take care of that, though.
  • City with No Name: Christine and Isabelle visit London and Christine mentions wanting to relocate to New York, but the wide array of accents that the characters have makes the setting unclear. Notably, Christine (played by the Canadian McAdams) is the only major character with a North American accent. To throw things off even further, people are later shown speaking German at length. However, it definitely takes place in Europe, because when Isabelle mentions the sum that Dirk was embezzling, she gives the amount in euros and not dollars. Also, Isabelle refers to her residence as a flat and not an apartment.
  • Covers Always Lie: An interesting example; the soundtrack cover makes it look like Christine is about to strangle Isabelle and kill her. While this does happen in the film, it's in a dream sequence. In reality, the opposite happens — Christine is killed by Isabelle.
  • Death by Adaptation: Dani, who survives in the original film.
  • Dream Within a Dream: Much like he does in Raising Cain, Brian De Palma really plays with the audience's mind at times on exactly what is All Just a Dream, twice. The first is whether or not Isabelle was really arrested (she was; her "waking up" in her room a second time turns out to be the dream); the second is whether or not the blond girl at the funeral was Christine or her sister, seeking revenge either way.
  • Europeans Are Kinky: Inverted. Christine is the one interested in kinky sex, not her British partner, who merely complies with her wishes.
  • Everyone Owns a Mac: Probably justified, since Christine's company creates advertisements and often people who work in media will choose Macs.
  • Gainax Ending: The blond girl at the funeral. Is she really Christine's sister who therefore 1) actually DID exist and 2) was NOT killed or otherwise permanently injured? Or is she possibly Christine, and the girl killed was the twin? Or...was the funeral All Just a Dream? Or, could everything after she starts taking the pills a dream/drug induced hallucination up to the very end?
  • Gender Flip: In the original film, Dani is a man named Daniel.
  • Glad I Thought of It: What kick-starts the rift between Isabelle and Christine. Christine takes the credit for Isabelle's ad concept.
  • Instant Web Hit: Isabelle's commercial for the smartphone becomes one of these after she uploads it onto YouTube.
  • Interscene Diegetic: Isabelle attends a ballet. The music from it continues playing into the next scene, which is at an entirely different location. This is followed by a split screen, with the ballet and its music on one side, and the other half silent.
  • Karma Houdini: Isabelle gets away with murdering Christine by successfully pinning the blame on Dirk.
  • Magical Security Cam: Averted. When Christine shows the film of Isabelle crashing her car, it's from a different vantage point than what was seen earlier.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Christine has a Stocking Filler sequence lounging about in black lingerie, a moment where she rips open her shirt to threaten Dani with an accusation of assault, and a shower scene a la Psycho (and, of course, Dressed to Kill and Carrie (1976)).
  • Product Placement:
    • Surprisingly averted with the smartphones in the film. They're shown constantly, but the brand name is only onscreen a couple of times, and even then it's not the focal point.
    • Played straight with the Apple products, though. There's one scene where the camera actually zooms in on the logo until it fills the screen. Subtle.
  • Reality Has No Subtitles: People are shown speaking German several times without any English translation given.
  • The Reveal: Near the end of the film, Dani reveals to Isabelle that she knows all about the way the murder was planned, helpfully explaining it to the audience at the same time.
  • Scare Chord: One of these plays after Christine reveals to Isabelle that she has the sex tape that Isabelle and Dirk made.
  • Twist Ending: After all the emphasis on our sharing Isabelle's emotional point-of-view upon her being arrested, etc. (to say nothing of the camera editing during the Split Screen, and Isabelle's VERY convincing emotional breakdowns during this turns out that she was the murderer—and the opera was just an alibi! Some nice Foreshadowing includes Dani's discovery of the mask—and the whole thing with Dani and the pills....
  • Underdressed for the Occasion: Many of the outfits that Isabelle's assistant Dani wears are far from office attire. For example, she's often seen in jeans, and at one point she's even wearing short shorts... In the offices of a company that is wealthy and powerful, and run by an authoritative boss. It's weird.