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.
A really interesting premise, but it doesn't really go anywhere. It felt like the plot was being made up on the spot, with the leads often looking unsure as to what they were supposed to be doing or saying. And the snippets of deep-and-meaningful dialogue seemed really naive and forced. It seems like MA was more interested in pretty shots than a decent plot. A self-indulgent big-budget student film
Good to see, but not to have seen: all eye, no ear, nor soul. Like L'Eclisse, M.A. obsesses upon what isn't present. Dissatisfactions seep up from inside, upending elite lives. Static shots show listless people, adrift from meaning, mourning. Wolfish leading man (Nicholson/Delon) - so to prove that even such life forces must ossify under M.A.'s baleful gaze? Director as Gorgon, turning all to stone. Why? Choose life!
'What kind of an impression do you think you make when you walk into a room?' The Passenger is a dreamlike film, often leaking drops of bleak reality to remind us, I suppose, that the grass is not always greener on the other side - especially when you take on what seems to be the exciting life of a globe-trotting arms dealer. Schneider gives a masterful performance in affectionate detachment.
Don't be fooled by the Thriller/Mystery tag. This is not a genre flick, so don't expect fast thrills and you will be rewarded by a complex, beautiful film which offers riches in all aspects of cinematic craft. A movie which had me scurrying to different websites to understand more about the themes and filmmaking and to eat up the opinions good art provokes. Not pretentious, not slow - just great!
Near the end there is a very long take that is so interesting in how it is done and how it creates suspense that it is worth watching the entire film to fully appreciate this shot. There are many other great things about this film however I was so impressed with this long take I had to highlight it.