Antonioni's English lanquage 'The Passenger' has aged like a fine wine and still offers rich awards in viewing. Nicholson is at his best in this strange tale of a man who assumes another's identity and lets fate and flight lead his newfound destiny. Meticulous in its editing and cinematography with an interesting worldview shining through its cloudy narrative. Top notch.
★★★★ /35mm/ A deeply penetrating puzzle of a worn out journalist’s existential crisis who assumes the identity of another man. Nicholson, superb, captures the somber residue of a man going through the motions. Antonioni skillfully weaves the building tension of a man hunted with the transcendental release of Spain and his relationship with an exquisite Schneider. The end is sublime perfection.
The disillusioned man’s search for himself. Or perhaps he’s disappointed with himself. Or just tired of all this shit. It remains an enigma what drives the reporter to the self-destructive endeavor of stealing the identity of an arms dealer. But the dream of leaving all behind sits deep in the modern man, so I guess the opportunity makes the thief. Antonioni’s film offers no answers, but many moments for reflection.
At least there are three reasons why I watched THE PASSENGER. 1) It was directed by the legendary Michelangelo Antonioni & it has been said this is his last English feature-film. 2) Jack Nicholson in some kind of an arthouse movie. 3) The collaboration between them. I know it's not a religious movie. But I feel this movie is some kind of a spiritual journey to find a true-self. The cinematography also looks awesome!
So this is how Antonioni does a globe-trotting thriller: more suspenseful than you would expect, about as downbeat/existential as you would, and with characters and dialogue pitched frustratingly between "enigmatic" (which is a good thing) and "vague" (which isn't). Still, a geopolitically attuned look at anomie, apathy, and engagement, with a climactic shot that belongs to the long take hall of fame.
The film is like a journey, and not only for Nicholson's character, but also for the viewer. We seem to follow, directionless through the strange existence of his character and through a bare narrative that is both ambiguous and meditative, but that's the charm of the film, so open to meaning, it isn't tied down to a particular statement, making repeated viewing more rewarding and varied.
Existentialism & anticolonialism a la Antonioni.A journalist tries to change his empty bourgeois life by assuming the life of a revolutionary gunrunner. Instead, he buys a convertible. Even the camera,that shows in detail the agonising death of a rebel,turns away from his insignificant death. And Antonioni's prediction for the West? Too many Lockes:"The same old tragedy all over again.The kids can't get away from us"
a.k.a. the lengths one man will go to get away from his wife, centred by a magnetic, and uncharacteristically non-manic, performance from Nicholson. Beautifully shot, though the editing is somehow even more beautiful, and with a penultimate shot for the ages. Dig.