Directed by Ira Sachs
Starring Franz Rogowski, Ben Whishaw and Adèle Exarchopoulos
If you have read my film reviews over the years, you’re probably sick of me mentioning the importance of “Optimum Immersion.” I certainly don’t want to spoil anything about director Ira Sachs’ (Frankie, Little Men) excellent 2023 film Passages, so I will keep this succinct and do my best to entice you to see the film without giving too much away.
That said, since most of today’s filmgoers are active on social media sites like Instagram, Facebook and whatever they call Twitter now, you probably already have at least a loose idea about the film’s premise, or seen its marketing tagline that explains: “A gay couple’s marriage is thrown into crisis when one of them impulsively begins a passionate affair with a young woman.”
When I walked into the theater to see Passages, I knew only that it starred that guy who voiced Paddington and my new favorite actress Adèle Exarchopoulos (sorry Florence Pugh). This lack of advanced knowledge set the tone for one of the strangest and most surprising theatre experiences I’ve had in a long time. The uncomfortable squirms from the young film nerds in front of me only added to the voyeuristic nature of the film and my enjoyment of its unexpected love scenes.
I laughed out loud at the film’s vapid, ridiculously entitled lead character Tomas Freiburg, played with a callous charm by Franz Rogowski, an actor I was previously unfamiliar with. Based on his performance in Passages, anything he does from here on out will make its way onto my watchlist. Ben Whishaw (Paddington) and Exarchopoulos were equally brilliant. Neither got as much screentime as Rogowski, but each managed to tap into the spirit of the film and give career performances.
Ultimately, Passages reminds the viewer that, no matter who you are, how you identify, or how you decide to orgasm you can still be an asshole. The Worst Person in the World (2021) was one of my favorite films of 2022 and Passages shares many similarities. In fact, they should probably add a colon to Passages’ title – Passages: The Worst Person in The World Part 2.
Passages is the second film I’ve seen from Sachs. I loved the subtle family complexities the director explored in 2016’s Little Men, starring Greg Kinnear. Based on these two films I will definitely be watching more of his catalogue.
If Little Men is a B+ and The Worst Person in the World is an A, then Passages is also an A.