Rysuke Hamaguchi’s PASSION was made while the great director was in film school. I say that up front because watching the film it’s clear that the master who made DRIVE MY CAR and his more recent films was just starting out.
The film concerns a couple who announce their engagement to friends. This leads to a series of emotional revelations that that send shockwaves through the couple and their friends.
On it’s own terms PASSION is a good drama, but it isn’t anything special. It’s a very intense film about emotion and ideas that let’s us know that this is trying to be more than a pot boiler. It’s a film that looks like it was made for TV with shot choices that seem that they put together by a TV vet, instead of a budding cinematic master. Honestly if it wasn’t a first film from a great director I don’t think PASSION would have traveled to America.
That said as the starting place of a master PASSION is interesting. Looking at the film one can see how Hamaguchi got from PASSION to DRIVE MY CAR. There are sequences and moments that are as expertly handled as anything that came after, even if the film as a whole doesn’t.
Is it worth seeing? Yes absolutely both on it’s own terms and as a starting place, just don’t go in expecting the film to be a four star masterpiece, rather it should be seen as a good drama that lead to greater things.
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