Passion Play

Director: Mitch Glazer

Notable Cast: Mickey Rourke, Megan Fox, Bill Murray, Kelly Lynch, Rhys Ifans

Rating: R

Review:  Well, at least movie stars know when they’re part of an awful film.  Mickey Rourke was documented slamming co-star Megan Fox and the film Passion Play itself; chalking it up to just “another terrible movie.”  Mickey of course is going back against his word and doing damage control, but the thing about the media is the comments are already out there and never going away.  Can’t say I blame Rourke though, because Passion Play is just another terrible movie.  I mean honestly Bill Murray, you sit there not even willing to read a script for the new Ghostbusters or whatever the story is now, yet you think this steaming pile was a good career choice?  All other work aside from the collective cast, no one does an outstanding job with their parts and each performance is just as flawed as the next.  Passion Play suffers most because it jams the overall metaphor of the film straight down your feed hole, and truly thinks its “creativity” is genius.  The only thing those wings made me do is envision Megan Fox’s character trying to fly in the opening minutes of the film, only to realize she’s too damn heavy and hit the pavement like a sack of oranges, ending the atrocity in an undoubtedly more entertaining splattering fashion before the true horror could even start.

Nate Poole (Rourke) is a struggling trumpet player who recently made the mistake of sleeping with local crime lord Happy Shannon’s (Murray) wife.  Happy doesn’t take to kindly to this, so he has a hitman take Nate into the desert to execute him.  Luckily for Nate, a wandering pack of what appear to be Native American karate students with guns are walking by and for no reason kill the hitman, but not Nate.  So, Nate wanders aimlessly until he stumbles upon a circus freak show set up in the middle of nowhere, where he sees a beautiful young girl named Lily (Fox) who has a pair of wings but is trapped behind glass.  He finds her trailer and chats her up, but is ambushed outside only to be almost killed again by the show’s leader Sam (Ifans) for fear that Nate is trying to steal his prized spectacle.  His fears turn true when Lily busts in and breaks Nate free, and the two run away together.  It turns out Lily knows exactly who Nate is and is a huge admirer (figures), and the two see the true beauty in each other.  Nate also sees a “Get Out Of Jail Free” card in Lily, and tries to make a deal with Happy to use her at his club and share the profits.  Happy has other ideas though that include stealing Lily for his own pleasure and trapping her in another glass cage.  Nate decides Lily doesn’t deserve this fate, and sets out to break the trapped beauty out of Happy’s dismal imprisonment he accidentally forced her into.  Will true love prevail?!  Blech.

Oh no Mickey!  You must set her free!  Because she has wings…and is imprisoned behind glass…and to be free….oh wait you get it already?  Sh*t, well here’s another hour and fifteen minutes of the same malarkey….

There is NOTHING new or inventive to be found in this story once you get past the whole “winged beauty is trapped and can only be set free by true love” bullshit metaphor.  Which, for the record, happens in the first, say, five minutes when the idea is introduced?  I mean honestly, could writer/director Mitch Glazer have picked a more obvious way of showing only true love can set you free mixed with the whole the winged woman wants to fly and be free, not caged?  With so many creative thoughts and metaphors being used in movies today, this seemed like the most tired and trivial possible way that required no thinking outside of the box, but more of a straight forward and literal way of showing the overlaying message.  It almost felt insulting at times, and like a joke at others.  I admit it’s hard to pull off a successful romantic film, something I would never try if I delved into filmmaking, but if you’re going to try, it would be nice to have a little more thought thrown in.

With that said, surely good performances from the film’s stars could save what was left of the film.  I believe that yes, good performances could have saved the film, but these performances were nowhere to be found in the final product.  No, instead we got Bill Murray basically reading off of a cue card the whole time, Megan Fox who appeared to only be there for eye candy, and Mickey Rourke giving a truly uninspired role.  I love Mickey as an actor (and Murray too for that matter) and he’s delivered time and time again with phenomenal roles, but this really hurt to watch.  There was no real connection between Rourke and Fox, which was evident in their characters, and made the relationship that was the glue of the film hold no weight.  It was a romance meant to be filled with passion according to the title, but instead was such carbon copy cookie cutter bullshit it almost made mockery of what Glazer was at least trying to accomplish with his script.  I was bored to tears watching what should have been a moving love story, and in the end nothing is really accomplished by any part in Passion Play.

Sure, I’m not one for the romance genre, but I at least know when it’s done right.  A film like Atonement is a feat in filmmaking due to the emotion and love put into the relationship at question.  A film like Passion Play on the other hand just turns into a giant stinker hoping to get on the good graces of the hopeless romantics who buy into the whole Hollywood glamour.  Sure, if you’re a poor sap who only needs the idea of caged loved, I’m sure Passion Play will be more passable.  But for those of us looking for actual cinematic accomplishments like a brilliant story, emotion filled performances by the cast, and some originality thrown in the mix; Passion Play will be just as bland as the next hopeful love story.  Every so often I sit through a film just so I can have justification to my rating, and Passion Play was a perfect example of such an instance.  Zero redeeming qualities make Passion Play nothing but a mindless flick thinking entirely too highly of itself and what intelligence it truly believes it possess.  An ego check would have been nice to at least ground itself.  Oh and the end.  Good gracious the end.  Nope, I’m stopping now before I rant myself into a rage induced aneurism.  Pass.

Final Rating: 3 silly trapped winged women out of 10

BUT MICKEY!  SHE’S IN ANOTHER CAGE!  YOU STILL HAVE TO SET HER…Oh wait you got it the first time and the bajillion other times after that?  Hmm…last hour was a waste then eh?


About Matt Donato

I love all things film. I'll watch any genre, any actor, at any time. This whole film critic thing is a passionate hobby for now which I'm balancing with working in the business world, but hey, someday, who knows?
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1 Response to Passion Play

  1. Pingback: 2011: Recap of the Good, the Bad, and Everything Else | Cinema Scrutiny

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