Passion, Brian De Palma’s voluptuously ludicrous new thriller, features his buzziest cast in a while, and the presence of Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace seems to have rooted him — at least for the first half. The movie starts out as a reasonably contained satire of office politics. McAdams uses her sexy billboard smile and emphatic delivery to nail a certain type of troublemaker boss who embeds her aggression in pert ”sincerity.” And Rapace, who appears tremulous and servile but may be a more competitive head case, keeps you guessing.
The women’s sisterly bond teeters into romance and then treachery, but it’s all just an excuse for De Palma to go wild with indulgence. Having kept his gliding-camera ”Hitchcockian” impulses in submission for close to an hour, he then gives in to them like a recovering alcoholic reaching for a shot of Wild Turkey. Why, for five minutes, does half the screen show McAdams walking through her house, tracked by camera movement that’s less Hitchcockian than Halloween-ian, while the other half depicts the ballet performance Rapace is attending? Passion turns into vintage De Palma — which is to say, the film seems almost engineered to get you giggling at the extravagance of its absurdity. Any enthusiasm in the viewer is bound to be a shadow of the film’s passion for itself. (Also available on VOD and iTunes) C