Adulting: Our Review of ‘Passion’ (2008)

Posted in Theatrical by - April 14, 2023
Adulting: Our Review of ‘Passion’ (2008)

Adult life has many obstacles. Some of those obstacles feel like nothing on paper but Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s drama Passion shows them with varying degrees of effect. Some of these obstacles feel tragicomic. It may tickle viewers to see that one of these obstacles include a cat dying off screen. A dinner among friends moves to a second location.  Kenichiro (Nao Okabe), Takeshi (Kiyohiko Shibukawa) and Tomoya (Ryuta Okamoto) come over to Takako’s (Fusako Urabe) apartment. There, they share cigarettes and future plans, plans that they mull over as people approaching their thirties.

Takeshi and Tomoya develop feelings for Takako. A love triangle among friends is difficult enough to navigate. But it doesn’t help that they both have a fiancée or a pregnant wife at home. Kaho (Aoba Kawai) eventually finds out about her fiancé Tomoya straying from him. This rift, then, makes Kenichiro think that it’s time to confess his feelings for her. Kaho’s part in the petangon also complicates her work life. She is a teacher, and one climatic scene has her lecturing her class about one of her students dying by suicide. The discussion eventually devolves into her making contradictory statements about violence.

What’s interesting in this early but still good draft of a drama is Kaho and the students enter a classroom that becomes a hall of mirrors of sorts. Scenes like this hint at how Hamaguchi can put a few characters in a room and make magic. They invade each other’s spaces both physically and metaphorically, and depending on these characters’ moods, this is something they reject or accept. He puts characters together who learn how powerful they are in hurting or maybe helping each other. In doing this, Passion is also a good example of an admittedly navel gaze-y drama about adults figuring themselves out, about adults who think that romantic love is the most important thing in the world.

Although this drama has its version of a hive mind, it characters equally are self aware. They push eacch other to make changes either for better or for worse. Characters fight and then make up in ways that seem illogical. But as obvious as this sounds, the drama is right in showing that hate and love manifest within second of each other. There’s also a frankness to the way these characters talk as if they’re strangers. This is perfect for a group of people trying to reacquaint with each other and seeing each other in new ways. Even the aesthetic crunchiness and Ozu references here works in delivering an intimate drama.

Passion screen on New York City’s Lincoln Centre.

This post was written by
While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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