Passion of Mind (2000)
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This film was toasted by the critics, but I didn't think it was that bad. In fact, I liked it. I guess I fall more into the first (sucker for schmaltz) category. The story was criticized as being a contrived version of `Me, Myself and I', where a woman is torn over the choice between life as a professional and the family shtick. That criticism really misses the point. This is a story about a woman's psychological attempt to deal with her traumatic past and has nothing whatever to do with lifestyle choices.
I found this to be an intelligent and complex character study of a woman who seems to be two people living two lives, but really isn't. If that seems cryptic, see the film and it might become clearer. When she goes to sleep from her life with her children in France, she wakes up to her high-powered career in New York and vice versa. She can't determine which is real and which is a fantasy. She has a lover in each life and both seem very real to her. As the story unfolds, she and we try to figure out which is her real life and which is the dream.
The trouble with the presentation is that its real intrigue lies with the psychodrama. Unfortunately, neophyte director Alain Berliner pushed that element to the background and cranked up the schmaltz machine, centering the story on the romances instead. That wouldn't have been so bad if they weren't so interminable. Scene after scene retraced the same romantic theme, until it became frayed.
Other than the misplaced emphasis, the film was well crafted. There were subtle hints throughout about which was the real life, but they were far from obvious tip-offs. However, when we finally discover the truth, it takes forever to wrap up the loose ends. To Berliner's credit, the locations were breathtaking, in both France and New York. It is easy to find beauty in the French countryside, but these were some of the most wonderful film perspectives I have ever seen of New York's skyline and street vistas.
After enjoying a few years as one of the highest paid entertainers on the planet, Demi Moore disappeared for three years. This was probably not the best vehicle for her return. Her performance was strongly emotional but one-dimensional, failing to differentiate the characters sufficiently. She played the high-powered NYC girl to be just as wimpy as the insecure girl in France. To be fair however, she created two very appealing and vulnerable romantic characters and deserved better notices than she received.
William Fichtner was not the greatest choice for her NY love interest. Fichtner is better at abrasive antagonist roles and his attempts at sensitivity came across as far too pathetic. Stellan Skarsgard was much better and made a dashing and attractive romantic figure.
This was a good story that took a sentimental detour under the guidance of an inexperienced director. Still, it was engrossing and even touching at times. I rated it a 7/10. Add a point if you like sentimental pieces and subtract at least two if you aren't a Demi Moore fan.
In the end we find that the French existence is really a dream, taking her back to her childhood there. She had never reconciled the premature death of her mother, and in her dream she became the mother, the two children were her at different ages.
A fine, entertaining, thought-provoking film. Most of the critics, like Ebert, got this one wrong. It is better than they said it was, probably because they decided early into the film that it wasn't good.
What stroke me first was the incredible cinematography. I never before seen New York filmed in such a beautiful way. The exterior locations looked trully beautiful and it´s a real viewing pleasure just to see a good story set against such beautiful images in the background. As for the plot, i think it´s a brilliant concept and a very inteligent way of telling a romantic story. Ok it might not be the most original one if you read a lot of sci-fi novels, but in this case it was extremely well presented, with never a dull moment despite the slow pace the story moves along. A great for story for people who like "sci-fi" themes and for people who don´t. Great script, good dialogue, good ending and it keeps its mistery right up untill the end ,without giving much away through out the whole film, making us stay glued to the tv set untill the movie finaly ends. (The region 2 dvd, has an incredible image and a fantastic 5.1 sound mix wich fills the room with a perfect 3d atmosphere)
If you like stories about paralel realities, and you like this sort of existencial themes and hipotesis, you´re going to love this movie. As someone said in a review back here somewhere, this is a real good quantum mechanics movie, wich depicts very well some of the concepts present in those theories without complicating things for the viewer. Above all it makes us think and wonder. It´s a great movie to initiate a discussion about the theme afterwards and a very inteligent and beautiful romantic story. Pretty impressive actualy. As i said, a real good surprise. If you like originality, watch this. If you only like guns, explosions and special effects, stay away because you won´t get it. PASSION OF MIND is trully an execelent surprise.
It is here that the story starts to get interesting. Marie meets William (Stellan Skarsgard,) an author whose book Marie panned. William, almost stalking, shows up one day and befriends one of Maries daughters and eventually works his way into Maries heart. Meanwhile, Marty encounters Aaron (William Fichtner,) an accountant doing business with her firm, who has an immediate attraction to her. And, just like Marie, Marty begins to have feelings for Aaron.
Marie and Marty begin to realize they are in love. But, which one is real? In both lives there are therapists trying to help solve this very problem. Both Marie and Marty can feel each other's love. We, as the viewer, feel it too! Neither woman allows their respective men to get too close, believing something bad may happen if either of them are awakened in the middle of the night. Both women realize that their relationships cannot last like this. They must figure out which is reality and which is dream. If they make the wrong decision all could be lost. We try to decide, as well, which is real and which is dream. It's not until we start to unlock the past that we find out if we have made the right decision.
The writers (Ron Bass and David Field,) do a great job using the dream world to show how some people deal with traumatic events in their past by suppressing them into their subconscious. Everyone and everything in the dream life represents something significant in the real life past. The cinematography is also wonderful. Eduardo Serra (What Dreams May Come, The Wings of The Dove) shoots the French scenery marvelously making it seem very tranquil, while giving Manhattan a dark, cold and very overwhelming feeling. The director, Berliner, then takes this material and crafts it into a tale of duality, where one woman locks her feelings deep in her own mind and takes them out only in the privacy of her dreams.
With a very fine ensemble cast including Willaim Fichtner, Stellan Skårsgard, Joss Ackland, Sinead Cusack and Peter Riegert, this film offers a delicate exploration of questions central to human psychology and the interaction of our inner and outer lives.
Beautifully photographed by Eduardo Serra and surprisingly well-written by Hollywood regular Ron Bass and relative neophyte David Field, this film at first appears to be heading for typical "Women's Film" territory, but Berliner and the writers put a wholly original, subtly crafted spin on it that makes it anything but predictable and ordinary.
I have a complete review of the film up at my website: www.thenedpages.com - then click on "critical analysis" and pick it off the list of reviews.
There are quite a few cues in the movie that are confusing as one tries to figure out the real world versus the dream world. However, the chemistry between Demi Moore's character (Marty) and William Fichtner's character (Aaron) seems more substantial, although initially, less romantic.
In trying to figure out what is really going on, as I viewed the movie, I felt a little off balance. The dialogue is really good. There is a lot of truth about relationships revealed here.
This movie is worth checking out especially if you want a change of pace.