Published Sep 22, 2010If there's something important to know about Mitch Glazer, it's that he wrote what is almost certainly the greatest Christmas feature film of all time: the timeless (well, it's a bit '80s) Scrooged. It's likely this fact (or his associate producer credit on Lost in Translation) that helped convince Bill Murray (who actually has a better track record than anyone thinks he does) to be in this absolute turkey of a film. The rest of principle cast? Well, Mickey Rourke, Megan Fox and, particularly, Rhys Ifans have never had much in the way of quality control, but one has to believe that this simply looked a lot better on the page than it does on screen.
The plot revolves around an ugly, flightless bird, in this case Fox, a bird lady in a carnival who just happens to have actual wings. Rourke plays a down on his luck jazz trumpeter who, when taken out into the desert to die for his transgression against mob boss Murray (who's really phoning it in — this is no Mad Dog and Glory performance), miraculously escapes not once (from a gunman), but twice (from an enraged Ifans, this time with Fox in tow).
This is Glazer's first film behind the camera and it shows. Paired with cinematographer Christopher Doyle, it's immediately, sickeningly mawkish, every scene and shot layered with forced symbolism. By the third reel, the audience I watched it was were nakedly laughing at the film, never with — there's not a shred of intended humour. It reached a crescendo directly before the final twist in the tale, which was so staggeringly, awesomely terrible that the crowd was genuinely speechless.
Passion Play is an awful film, the kind of "first feature" you would expect from an overly earnest film school graduate desperate to show what he's learned; it's embarrassingly amateur in content and form.
A seasoned professional like Glazer should be looking at a film like this — hopefully long in his past — with horror, hoping it never gets screened again. As it is, that's only our hope. (Annapurna)