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MOVIES: Passages - Review

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Passages delves into the lives of a messy couple in contemporary Paris involved in the arts. Having just finished a film shoot; German director Tomas – runs the risk of jeopardising his relationship with Ben Whishaw’s Martin by cheating on him with Agathe, a young woman who he meets at the afterparty; played by Adèle Exarchopoulos. Both actors – Franz Rogowski and Exarchopoulos, are magnetic on screen and sparks fly between them almost instantly. But Tomas can’t help be drawn back to Martin, and Martin can’t help but move on from Tomas – creating a messy, ugly affair that unearths Tomas’ jealousy when Martin tries to leave him behind.

The film’s scenes are sharp; funny and evolve the relationship between the central trio continuously. No time is wasted and the film puts in great effort to showcase not only the troubles of discovering bisexuality later on in life but also not separating that line from the toxic; controlling nature of a relationship where one is jealous of the other for doing exactly the same thing. Rogowski’s talent allows you to embrace the charm of Tomas, who’s shameless as shameless can be, he’s the sort of person who will hook up with his husband and then go to meet his new girlfriend’s parents wearing the same clothes the following day. This is the kind of chaotic energy that Ira Sachs; director of Love is Strange, brings to the table: full disaster bisexuality explored to full effect. This film could have its title swapped with The Worst Person in the World quite easily. Julie never quite reaches the heights of Tomas – or comes anywhere close.

Ira Sachs invests great nature in proving that sex scenes are important to movies and their plot – I mean, can you imagine Passages without them? There are films that are vital to their importance in the debate which has been stirring for a while; that sex scenes don’t matter – but Passages uses them in a vital way to show the humanisation of the characters; in this case their flaws, whilst exploring different forms of love on screen. Humanity is the key here and Passages plays with it in one of the most inclusive ways that I’ve seen on screen – and the staging during these scenes helps make them grippingly authentic. Even when the film pulls off its more preposterous moments: nothing in here feels something that a “real” person would do; but that’s the magic of the movies: only Passages could create a character so hateable for its lead who you can’t help but like despite the damage he’s inflicting on those who he loves because he’s so nonchalant about to the point where you believe he doesn’t know it hurts them.

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