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Brian De Palma is known for larger-than-life films. In a career that spans over forty years, he has made some of the most impressive works in American cinema, borrowing ideas from a multitude of sources: literature, pop culture and the movies themselves. Like a postmodernist magpie he has drawn inspiration from Hitchcock, Antonioni and Hawks to come up with some awesome imagery along the way.

Passion is a remake of Alain Corneau’s elegant thriller Crime d’amour, which we presented at our Festival in 2010. De Palma follows the structure of the original while making it entirely his own. The film centres around two women: Christine (Rachel McAdams), an elegant, ice-cool blonde career woman who holds a senior position with a high-powered advertising agency; and her assistant Isabel (Noomi Rapace), a shy and reticent brunette. Christine has a silky smooth charm, but underneath her veneer of control hides a tangle of kinky sexual needs. Isabel, smart and creative despite her hesitance, harbours a growing ambition.

When Christine claims credit for a daring marketing campaign that was entirely Isabel’s idea, the gloves start to come off in subtle ways. Isabel is initially disarmed by her boss’ candour: as Christine explains it, stealing her idea was simply business. But things change when Christine humiliates Isabel in public. With the plot set in motion, De Palma uncorks all the stops and, with wild abandon, launches into a labyrinthine revenge story.

As Isabel schemes, Christine parries her thrusts with calculated bravura. De Palma relishes these kinds of baroque plots; here he lets rip with a series of set pieces in the style for which he is famous. McAdams and Rapace revel in the expanse De Palma always allows his actors, while the story twists and turns in unexpectedly. Scratch below the surface: passions rage.

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