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Vapid melodrama and bland sexual digressions cripple the roundly disappointing Passages but the final nail in the film’s coffin is an insufferably obnoxious man-child protagonist.

Many of Ira Sachs' past films - particularly his New York-set best works - are heavily indebted to Woody Allen, but in his latest picture the filmmaker seems to channel the kitchen sink melodrama of Rainer Werner Fassbender, with decidedly inferior results.

Passages wastes no time in setting up its premise: in the first ten minutes film director Franz Rogowski (seemingly happily married to Ben Wishaw) falls head over heels for Adèle Exarchopoulos and quickly dumps Wishaw. What follows is an uneasy ménage à trois, as Rogowski flutters back and forth between his two lovers, guided by his ever-changing, self-centred emotional moods.

There's no doubt that this tale could have yielded a painfally acurate portrait of the difficult balance between love and lust, but instead Sachs offers nothing but gimmicky soapy intrigue. The drama is so artificially heightened that you just cannot take any of the characters seriously, while the many interspersed sex scenes exude a voyeuristic vapidness.

It doesn't help either that Rogowski's lead character is an immensely unlikable person with the emotional maturity of a toddler. His behaviour gets more annoying by the minute and gradually drags the entire movie (which was undercooked to begin with) completely down.

release: 2023

director: Ira Sachs

starring: Franz Rogowski, Ben Wishaw, Adèle Exarchopoulos


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