Review: Passion Play DVD

Passion Play DVD boxSTUDIO: Image Entertainment | DIRECTOR: Mitch Glazer | CAST: Mickey Rourke, Bill Murray, Megan Fox, Rhys Ifans
RELEASE DATE: 5/31/2011 | PRICE: DVD $27.97, Blu-ray $29.97
R | 94 min. | Romance fantasy | 2.40:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1/DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 | English and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Passion PlayWings of Desire meets Boxing Helena in this off-kilter, long-in the-works directorial debut of writer Mitch Glazer (Scrooged, The Recruit). A noirish fantasy movie, Passion Play is not the disaster most critics labeled it as when it played a limited engagement in theaters earlier this month. “Fascinating misfire” is a more apt description.

Mickey Rourke, seemingly out to burn the good karma he has inherited from his return in The Wrestler, plays Nate Pool, a down-and-out jazz musician who happens upon a carnival near the Texas/Mexico border. There he meets the beautiful Lily (Megan Fox, Jennifer’s Body), a freak show attraction sporting angel’s wings that happen to be real. Lily’s looked after by the carnival honcho (Rhys Ifans, Greenberg), and Nate decides to bust her out  in order to use her as a bargaining chip with his evil rival Happy (Bill Murray, Lost in Translation). Problems arise when Nate finds himself falling in love with Lily…

Beautifully shot by the great cinematagrapher Christopher Doyle (Hero), Passion Play is a mess of disparate elements that never seem to click and inert dramatics that suggest an inside joke that nobody has been let in on. The film is a noir, a romantic fantasy, a revenge tale, a story of mismatched love and more … none of which meshes from scene to scene.

Performance-wise, Rourke does his patented hard-ass yet vulnerable schtick (and has a not-even-close-to-realistic horn solo), Fox pouts (and even has a brief nude scene) and a nattily dressed Murray appears to be acting in a completely different film.

What it all amounts to is something that isn’t uninteresting but has something seriously amiss in its conception. For that, audiences will be both fascinated and confounded, often at the same time.

Neither the DVD nor Blu-ray comes with special features, so the movie’s all you get.


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About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.