Saturday, August 4, 2007

The Passenger

Professione: reporter; Drama, Italy/ France/ Spain/ USA, 1975; D: Michelangelo Antonioni, S: Jack Nicholson, Maria Schneider, Jenny Runacre, Ian Hendry

Somewhere in northern Africa, journalist David Locke's jeep gets stuck in the desert sand. He return to his hotel and finds out Englishman Robertson died from heat. He quickly switches his documents with him and from there on starts pretending he is Robertson. He follows the mans reservations for Dubrovnik, but then goes to Spain where he finds some rebels whom he gives Robertson's documents - then he realizes the man was dealing with weapon smugglers. Since he is followed, David hides in Barcelona and falls in love with a student girl. The thugs catch him up. He lies in his bed in a hotel and dies.

Although the extremely hailed film "The Passenger" has the ambitious decoration of the excellent, subtle directing by Michelangelo Antonioni, it didn't entirely cower up it's stagnant tone. Brilliant story and acting-vise, this minimalistic film permits itself too much empty walk, leaving the destinies of it's characters unfinished. Jack Nicholson was opulently placed in leading role of journalist David who switches his identity with a dead man in order to leave his boring life behind him, and the story contemplates some bitter existential truths, mostly revolving around the fact that the hero can't escape the clutches of life and his realization that his existence is doomed no matter what identity he takes, and the calm style prevails up until the open end where David is lying on his bed in a hotel, filmed in a 7-minute long take-tracking shot. But too bad it all wasn't used somehow better: Antonioni mostly just shows the landscapes of European countries, while some deeper psychological insight into the characters and love story (Maria Schneider's role is almost one dimensional) remain on second place. In some scenes, he was a lot more successful in criticizing the shallow society. "The Passenger" is indeed a philosophical film, but at moments it's simply boring.


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