Sunday, May 19, 2024

Passages movie review & film summary (2023)

At the wrap party for the shoot, Tomas is joined by his husband, Martin (Ben Whishaw). After a little bantering about whether or not they’ll be dancing, the frustrated Tomas sashays onto the floor with Agathe (Adèle Exarchopoulos), who’s been hanging about the set. They’re intrigued by each other. Agathe has literally just dumped her boyfriend and is extremely available. Tomas, on the other hand, is, yes, married, but he’s also—well, the most charitable way to put it is that he’s very open to experience.

The extent to which Martin and Tomas’ relationship is open is never made explicit, but after spending the night with Agathe, Tomas is inclined to overshare and exuberantly. “I had sex with a woman. Can I tell you about it?”

Martin doesn’t respond enthusiastically, so Tomas continues, “It was exciting! It was something different.” Hey, welcome to the club, Tomas. Anyway. Martin finally responds, “This always happens when you finish a film.” While “Passages” doesn’t spend much time in Tomas’ editing room, its timeline terminates as his movie is about to go to Venice. So there is a subtext that we’re seeing this character in a certain extreme state, but “Passages” doesn’t belabor it; it certainly doesn’t try to use creative work stress to excuse his behavior. Switching up your sexual orientation is an unusual approach to post-production coping, you have to give Tomas that.

Franz Rogowski’s performance as Tomas is fascinating. How he manipulates those around him is enough to make him borderline repellent, and Rogowski, leaning hard into a speech impediment and all manner of slippery postures, imbues the character with near-rodent-like qualities. Yet one understands why both Agathe and Martin are so physically drawn to him.

And this is the other thing that makes “Passages” a compelling story: Neither Agathe nor Martin is inordinately weak. At different points in the narrative, they give in to Tomas and his whiny ways, but they’re not victims. Whishaw’s character is a printer with a sharp eye and a steady-as-she-goes confidence in himself. Exarchopoulos shows how Agathe gets swept up in Tomas’ off-the-wall enthusiasm but demonstrates her commitment to living life realistically, as her action after Tomas betrays her very bluntly shows.

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HomeReviewsPassages movie review & film summary (2023)

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