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Marina Antunes [DVD News 05.31.11] movie review news dvd drama

Year: 2010
Director: Mitch Glazer
Writer: Mitch Glazer
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Marina Antunes
Rating: 3 out of 10

I can see why people might be interested in a movie starring Mickey Rourke and Megan Fox, especially one that appears to have a strong dramatic/artistic edge. Rourke is, after all, in the midst of a career resurgence and the jury is still out on whether that recent reappearance will be long lasting while Fox is known for her good looks and not her talents as an actress. So here we have two individuals trying to prove that their careers matter and in walks Mitch Glazer, a man best known for his writing, with a script he wants to direct about an out of luck trumpet player who finds himself in love with a beautiful woman who happens to have real wings and is working in a sideshow under the thumb of a freak-loving crazy man. I'm assuming Rourke and Fox's managers stopped reading the script description right there otherwise, this would never have found it’s way into the hands of any stars and would likely have been released under the cover of darkness if it ever saw the light of day at all.

If it sounds bad on paper, Passion Play is even worse on the screen. This is a catastrophe of a story, one which is so blatantly obvious in its metaphors that Glazer found it necessary to give the woman who "saves" Rourke wings. He couldn't have made her some cliché’d hooker with a heart of gold? Probably not obvious enough. I like weird and I could have, would have, overlooked that bit of crazy detail (along with the others) if the rest of the film wasn't so darn pretentious.

Everything about Passion Play is problematic, being either too exaggerated or so pointless it's not clear how or why it made the final cut of the movie. It doesn't help that neither of the leads is engaging, never mind memorable. From the get go Rourke seems to be walking through this role and though he has the physical attributes of a down on his luck guy, he fails to deliver any of the emotion that goes with it. Things only get worse when he walks into the sideshow and encounters Fox's girl with wings. What little energy he had is sucked up by Fox who seems to take it all in and return it in the form of watery eyes and pouty lips. I've come to like Fox who did a great job as the partner eating monster in Jennifer’s Body, but here she's back to Transformers Fox: all good looks and little else. Bill Murray also makes an appearance here as a local mobster who essentially buys Fox from Rourke for his own nefarious reasons. He's not great but he and Rourke's stripper friend Kelly Lynch along with the crazy sideshow owner Rhys Ifans are the most interesting characters in the film and between the three, they maybe share 20 minutes of screen time.

There are some fantastic locations on display here, kudos to the set designers and locations scouts, and some scenes that are just so amazingly awful they may actually be great. The first comes when Fox extends her wings and lets the gust of air lift her while she flaps in an attempt to fly. It's hilariously hockey and her girlish explanation about how they’re not strong enough to lift her was enough to make me laugh (though not quite as hard as the final scene when, SPOILER ALERT!, she saves both herself and Rourke, by leaping off the side of a building).

It's bad, very bad, but not enough to lift it into "so bad it's good" territory. The fact that Passion Play is a small film that will likely be overlooked by the general public will only do everyone involved with this production a favour; they can write it off as a miss that few people saw. As for Glazer… I'm pretty sure he's done as a director.

Passion Play is out on DVD and blu-ray on Tuesday, May 31st.

DVD Extras: None. I actually wish there had been cast and/or director interviews. I would have liked to hear them speak in earnest about the movie.

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