An angel under the thumb of a ruthless gangster is saved by a trumpet player down on his luck.An angel under the thumb of a ruthless gangster is saved by a trumpet player down on his luck.An angel under the thumb of a ruthless gangster is saved by a trumpet player down on his luck.
THE PLOT: Nate Poole (Mickey Rourke) is a down-on-his-luck musician in the Southwest who gets on the bad side of a mob boss, Happy (Bill Murray). In his flight he stumbles upon Lily (Fox) at a carnival, a "freak" with wings. They discern a deep connection and take off together with Happy & his hoods on their trail.
The film is very similar to 2008's "The Wrestler," which also starred Roarke. In both films Rourke plays a languishing has-been. In both films he struggles with his love for a young woman. In "The Wrestler" it's his daughter; in "Passion Play" it's an exceptional young woman with whom he has a love connection.
What surprised me is Fox' acting. She's known for playing the stereotypical hot chick, but here she plays a sweet, innocent woman struggling with an abnormality, and she does it very convincingly.
Also, Rourke (Nate) and Fox (Lily) have good chemistry. Yes, Nate is about 30 years older than Lily, but – it doesn't matter – their connection is real, sort of like Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson in "Lost in Translation."
The score is reverent and moving and fits the tone of the film.
The ending is both surprising and effective, even though there are obvious clues. See "COMMENTARY ON ENDING" below.
The film was shot in New Mexico and runs 94 minutes.
***SPOILER ALERT*** (Don't read until you've seen the film)
COMMENTARY ON THE ENDING: Although some interpret the ending to mean the bulk of the story is Nate's death dream, it more likely indicates that Nate was in some type of purgatorial spiritual realm where God offers a second chance for the lost. Nate passes the test and is ushered into eternal bliss. Since it's some type of spiritual realm where God is sovereign, the reality may be set-up in a holographic sense, similar to Star Trek's Holodeck. In that case, the people Nate experiences aren't real at all; they're there simply as a part of Nate's test.
At any rate, the ending gives the story purpose in an eternal scope. Instead of some silly fantasy about a hard-luck musician meeting some ultra-beautiful woman with wings who learns to fly while simultaneously delivering the man from some serious heavies (why sure!), the story becomes a tale of eternal redemption for a languishing dumb bastage who foolishly messed around with a mob boss' wife.
At the end you see Nate smiling with true joy as the angel sweeps him off to heavenly bliss. God gave him a second chance at redemption and he escapes this piece-of-sh** world.
- Jun 19, 2012