Passion (2012)

No backstabbing. Just business.

The story of a deadly power struggle between two women in the dog-eat-dog world of international business. Christine possesses the natural elegance and casual ease associated with one who has a healthy relationship with money and power. Innocent, lovely and easily exploited, her admiring protégée Isabelle is full of cutting-edge ideas that Christine has no qualms about stealing. They’re on the same team, after all. Christine takes pleasure in exercising control over the younger woman, leading her one step at a time ever deeper into a game of seduction and manipulation, dominance and humiliation. But when Isabelle falls into bed with one of Christine’s lovers, war breaks out. On the night of the murder, Isabelle is at the ballet, while Christine receives an invitation to seduction. From whom? Christine loves surprises.


Rachel as: Christine
Other cast: Noomi Rapace (Isabelle James), Karoline Herfurth (Dani Wirth), Paul Anderson (Dirk Harriman)
Alternative Title: None
Directed by: Brian de Palma
Written by: Brian De Palma, Natalie Carter & Alain Corneau (Love Crime)
Production Status: Available on DVD/Blu-Ray/Digital HD
World Premiere: September 7, 2012 at the Venice Film Festival
Theatrical Release: Limited August 30, 2013 (US)
Genre: Drama/Thriller/Mystery
Rated: Rated R for sexual content, language and some violence
Distributor: Entertainment One (US)
Run time: 100 min
Production budget: $30.000.000 (estimated)
Box office: $92,181 (US)
Producers: Sylvie Barthet, Saïd Ben Saïd, Alfred Hürmer
Original Music by: Pino Donaggio
Cinematography by: José Luis Alcaine

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Production Notes

Now, with his new film, Passion, De Palma puts his own twist on the latest incarnation of the thriller: the corporate thriller set against our 21st Century enthrallment with money, power, image and control. But this deadly corporate battle unfolds between two beautiful, complicated, ambitious women who have taken the gloves off and become as aggressive and merciless as any of their male higher-ups in the boy’s club. Using the divergent personalities of Rachel McAdams as the icy blonde executive Christine and Noomi Rapace as her secretive brunette protégé Isabelle, De Palma tells a story of go-getting that has gone too far — to a deliciously dark place, where these two characters have come to believe that any desire, no matter how kinky or vengefully wicked, can be attained if you’re willing to work hard, do your research and abandon all morals.

A large part of creating Passion would lie in the casting of the two women who form the darkly competitive heart of the mystery. De Palma notes that casting Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace brought the characters into sharper focus – and also added a sharp erotic edge beyond what even he had anticipated.

“In the original movie, Alain Corneau tiptoed around the sexual attraction between the characters. But Noomi Rapace and Rachel McAdams played it straight out. I did not say to them ‘kiss each other and be erotic.’ They just did it. And it was quite effective,” he says.

He adds: “Noomi and Rachel had already worked together on Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and knew each other well enough that they were able to leave the comfort zone and venture into more dangerous territory. They were unafraid to go anywhere with each other, which makes their duet very dynamic and compelling to watch.”

McAdams came to the fore as the wicked teen “queen bee” Regina George in the comedy Mean Girls and has gone on to play a variety of romantic, dramatic and comedic roles including the Southern belle who has an affair with Ryan Gosling in The Notebook; an ambitious morning news producer in the comedy Morning Glory; and Owen Wilson’s nagging wife in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. To De Palma, she had all the shadings needed to make Christine at once compellingly attractive, obsessively ambitious and capable of the most malevolent backstabbing.

“Rachel is very sexy and she had great fun playing a very evil woman,” says De Palma. “Actresses don’t always like to play manipulative women like Christine, but Rachel went all out for it.”

McAdams sees Christine as someone who takes her need for absolute control beyond the pale as she tries to keep her protégé Isabelle from outdoing her. “She basically terrorizes Isabelle to the point that she completely breaks her down . . . only then, to her surprise, Isabelle retaliates. In a way, Christine is like some kind of a succubus,” she says, referring to the legend of a female demon who uses her powers of seduction to steal victims’ souls. “She finds new talent like Isabelle, she hones it and then tries to use it to her own best advantage.”

Bringing to life Christine’s shadowy side – her ladder-climbing, her willingness to betray someone with a smile, her intense sexual needs – was one thing for McAdams. But equally key was to bring to light Christine’s blindness. “I think Christine really is not fully aware of what Isabelle might be capable of,” she comments. “She doesn’t see what a dangerous game they are playing until it is way too late.”

Noomi Rapace also came rapidly to the fore in a breakout role – that of Steig Larssen’s bleak and brilliant punk-waif computer hacker Lisbeth Salander in the original, acclaimed Swedish version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Celebrated for her haunting depths of darkness, she reprised the role in The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. She went on to take starring roles in several Hollywood productions, including Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, with McAdams, and Ridley Scott’s Prometheus.

De Palma was drawn to her ability to go to unsettling places. “Noomi can be very scary as Isabelle because you don’t really know what is going on her head and you believe she is capable of killing somebody,” he remarks.

Continue to read production notes

Production Process

The filming for “Passion” began early March 2012 in Berlin, Germany. Rachel wrapped up filming her scenes early April 2012 but the filming continued for about 4 weeks until May 5, 2012.

Trivia & Facts

  • Rachel and Noomi Rapace co-starred before in “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” (2011) but they don’t share any scenes in the movie. Paul Anderson also appeared in the film with Rachel and Noomi.
  • Casting director Anja Dihrberg revealed that director De Palma “prefers actors who come from the theater and mastered their craft accordingly”. Both Rachel and Noomi graduated in theater.
  • The movie will be shot entirely in Berlin, Germany on location. It was planned to shoot the movie on location in Londen and studio work in Germany but it was decided to film on location in Berlin. A few locations are Sony Center, Bode Museum and the restaurant Margaux.
  • The rumored budget for the movie is $20-30 million.
  • “Passion” was selected for the Venice Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival and the New York Film Festival in the fall of 2012.
  • Quotes from Rachel

    “When I got the script and read it I thought I was playing the other character and then I talked to Brian and he said he wanted me to play Christine, which I thought was kind of exciting. I wouldn’t have thought of that, so I thought it was a great adjustment that he made. It works the other way too, but this makes it a bit edgier.”
    On playing Christine (LA Times)

    “[…] I did spend some time in Berlin and I will return soon because I will film a movie with Brian De Palma, a really dark thriller.”
    On the movie (Trailerseite)

    Quotes from Cast & Crew

    “Not since ‘Dressed to Kill’ have I had a chance to combine eroticism, suspense, mystery and murder into one spell-binding cinematic experience. I can’t wait.”
    Brian De Palma, director (IndieWire)

    “Noomi Rapace is dangerous. She can be scary as Isabelle because you don’t know what goes on in that head of hers, and you believe she could kill somebody. Rachel McAdams is sexy and had great fun playing a very evil woman. Actresses don’t really like to play manipulative women like Christine, but Rachel went all out for it. Also, Noomi and Rachel had already worked together on “Sherlock Holmes” (Guy Ritchie) and knew each other well enough to leave the comfort zone and venture in dangerous territory. They were unafraid to go anywhere with each other. Which makes their duo very dynamic and compelling to watch.”
    Brian de Palma, director (Press Kit)

    “In the original movie, Alain Corneau tip toed around the sexual attraction between the characters. But Noomi Rapace and Rachel McAdams played it straight out. I did not say to them : “kiss each other and be erotic”. They just did it. And it was quite effective.”
    Brian de Palma, director (Press Kit)

    “I really wanted to work with Rachel and I think she is fantastic and when Brian came with this to me and he mentioned Rachel it felt like: ‘Wow this can be such a dream senario’ because it’s quite unusual to be given that kind of gift of getting the opportunity to step into a relationship between two women that’s not going to be a cute relationship or just friend because they are so competitive and they are kind of raising the game and it’s kind of a deathly manipulative game between them. ”
    Noomi Rapace, co-star (Venice Film Festival Press Conference)

    “I was looking at her, I remember one scene, and I was like ‘She’s too perfect. Ugh, she’s too goddamn perfect;. But I really like her and we are friends.”
    Noomi Rapace, co-star (Venice Film Festival Press Conference)

    Critical Reception

    “McAdams does shine brighter than the others because it seems that she is seemingly more conscious of the material she is working with. She manipulates the silly dialogue to its fullest extent. Perfectly coiffed and dressed to the nines, it’s hard to buy the very young-looking McAdams as a big time executive, but who cares?”
    Caitlin Hughes (The Film Reject)

    The movie currently holds a 34% rating at Rotten Tomatoes (Certified Fresh) and 53 score at Meta Critics

    Awards & Nominations

    ☆ 2012 Venice Film Festival for Golden Lion

    ★ = win ☆ = nomination | View entire list at IMDB

    Promotional Tour

    September 11th 2012 Toronto International Film Festival Press Day Variety Videos
    September 11th 2012 Toronto International Film Festival Premiere Arrivals | Q&A | After Party Videos

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