Saturday, September 29, 2012

NYFF50: There's PASSION tonight (later, too) as Brian De Palma's newest unveils

Might as well come right out with it: PASSION, the new film from Brian De Palma which has its American debut at the New York Film Festival tonight, is a remake of the two-year-old French film Love Crime by Alain Corneau (which proved to be that director's final movie). That Mr. De Palma would choose to remake a movie this recent that was released in a dozen major countries around the world was by far a bigger shock to TrustMovies than anything he saw in Passion itself. Does that make it a bad movie? Not at all. It's actually a lot of fun -- perhaps even more so for those of us (many, I would wager) who have already seen the earlier version.

As a stylist, M. Corneau was quiet in the extreme (Love Crimes was all icy blues and greys -- as icy as its leading lady, Kristin Scott Thomas -- particularly its interiors, which were "corporate" to a fault.) De Palma (at left), as usual, goes so over the top that you can't (and wouldn't want to) take your eyes off the screen. All or many of his signature tropes are here, from that huge staircase seen from above to the sudden, bloody slash of the knife, from fetish objects to twins. Not that he was the first to make use of any of these, but few have used them better.

There are differences in plot and character between the movies, but mostly it's a matter of style. The American, being a practitioner of giallo (well, he's Italian American!) gives us a far wide color palette, stylish but not plentiful gore, a number of goosebumps and the promise and delivery of some transgressive sex, though not of the lesbian variety that is rather expected.

In the roles created by Scott Thomas and Ludivine Sagnuier, we now have Rachel McAdams (above, going fairly far afield from her usual sunny-disposition roles) and Noomi Rapace (below, left, the original Girl With the Dragon Tattoo). To add to the same sex mix, Rapace's assistant is now played by a women (Karoline Herfurth, below, right) rather than a man, with designs -- and ambitions -- of her own regarding her boss.

Comparions may be odios, but as De Palma has practically courted them, they're inevitable. I suspect there will be at least as many positive as negative. Passion plays tonight at 9 at Alice Tully Hall; Saturday, October 6 at 9 at the Walter Reade Theater; and Thurs-day, October 11 at 3:15 at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center.

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