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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
What Goes Around, Comes Around
by Betty Jo Tucker

Watch out for women in the workplace, especially when it’s a high-powered advertising agency. That seems to be one of the messages in Passion, Brian De Palma’s uneven psychological thriller starring Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace. Because I’m a sucker for thrillers of any kind, I was very eager to see this one. The intriguing plot summary below -- which is posted on IMDb -- really piqued my interest.

The rivalry between a manipulative boss of an advertising agency and her talented protégé escalates from stealing credit to public humiliation to murder.

How could any thriller fan pass up an opportunity to watch a story like that unfold on screen? And it starts out with a great scene between these beautiful, ambitious women as they look at images on a computer. But they’re not in any stuffy office. They’re sitting close to each other on a sofa in Christine Stanford’s (McAdams) gorgeous living room, which resembles a fashionable art gallery. Isabelle James (Rapace) seems quite impressed with Christine and her plush life style; and Christine appears to admire Isabelle’s creative talent. I actually loved this opening scene, probably because of its crisp images, artistic set decoration and fascinating interaction between the two leads.

We soon learn that Christine is not above taking credit for Isabelle’s work – which starts their relationship to crumble. Isabelle fights back by having a secret affair with Christine’s current boyfriend (Paul Anderson). Things go from bad to worse, partly egged on by Isabelle’s lovely assistant Dani (Karoline Herfuth). When a murder occurs, Isabelle becomes the major suspect. But is she guilty? If not, who’s the real killer?

McAdams (To the Wonder) unleashes her inner Faye-Dunaway-as-Joan-Crawford persona here – and it works. We want to boo Christine many times when she behaves cruelly to others, particularly to Isabelle. Rapace (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) endows Isabelle with an inner rage that seems to be simmering just beneath the surface. But she definitely succeeds in evoking our sympathy for Isabelle, especially during her nerve-wracking meltdown.      

Although both actresses deserve praise for their stunning performances in Passion, the film itself doesn’t do them justice. As the story progresses, pretentious camera work – especially during the ballet sequence – detracts from the characters and makes us think we’re watching a Hitchcock parody; McAdams suffers through some drastic make-up mistakes; and the twisty ending seems too contrived. Still, the movie is not a total disaster. That terrific opening scene and those talented lead actresses almost make up for its weaknesses.          

(Released by Entertainment One and rated “R” for sexual content, language and some violence.)

For more information about Passion, go to the Internet Movie Data Base or Rotten Tomatoes website.

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