Passages. Movie Review

A perfect work outlining the frenzy of a toxic love relationship, showing three characters at the mercy of constant shifts in their emotional center of gravity. Great proof of the main characters.



Phenomenology of narcissistic pathology with indirect influence on the lives of others. Ira Sax (English)Love is strange 2014, Frankie 2019) pollutes the dramatic elements of the love triangle with ironic and sometimes grotesque overtones. Thomas (Franz Rogowski) is a director who has been married to graphic designer Martin (Ben Whishaw) for many years; Franz’s meeting with the beautiful teacher Agatha (Adele Exarchopoulos) sets the stage for the collapse of the former union and the beginning of a saraband of unfulfilled feelings. Paris forms an almost invisible backdrop for this love triangle.
Ira Sachs conducts dialogues and situations on the model of French cinema (primarily Piala and Romer), but enriches it with Fassbinder’s Maladictism, especially in the image of Franz, who has not decided on his sexual identity. The self-mutilation of a young German who doesn’t know what he wants causes him to frantically roam on his bicycle from one end of the city to the other. If bisexuality is a highly fluid state that reflects the intricacies of relationships with the emotional realm, then Franz’s manipulative attitude towards his lovers is a mirror of emotional fragility leading to dissociative disorder. Franz would like to apply his rules to his love life, as he does when directing a film, with a domineering and arrogant attitude. But cinema is not life, and Franz constantly changes the object of his desires, because people are beyond his control.

Passages it’s not only the life of this bizarre triangle, it’s also amazing acting: in addition to the now gigantic Rogowski, able to convey confusion and instability even in the intonation of his voice, subtraction tests of two other main characters, Adele Exarchopoulos and Ben Whishaw. The first enhances the character played in it Adel’s life giving her sensuality and maturity (note her movements when she dances or when she eats). The second is the ideal guide for the lover, which led to the psychological destruction of the self-centered narcissist. Martin is unable to cut the umbilical cord of emotional dependence, and all his torment lies in his indecisive movements, in reservations, in the surrendered shyness of his eyes. It is no coincidence that in the film’s most emotional scene, Martin and Agatha clash against Franz’s lies and duplicity. Sexuality is the means by which Franz asserts his dominance in the triangular relationship by disarming the other two lovers with a false image of weakness.



Sex scenes are filmed with particular rigor and skill, avoiding complacency and mannerisms, but focusing on the sensual language of the union of two bodies. The queer triangle clashes with bourgeois respectability. Franz’s confrontation with Agathe’s parents is hilarious: in an embarrassing dinner, the difficulties of speaking (German, French, English) are added to the impossible understanding of an alternative way of life. Franz does not seem exactly the model of a good family man and does his best not to hide his nature, in clothes and in dry and anxious answers.

Presented in Palermo as part of the national preview at the 13th Sicilia Queer Film Fest. Passages it’s a perfect piece of work outlining the frenzy of a toxic love relationship, showing three characters at the mercy of constant shifts in their emotional center of gravity. Franz’s narcissism eventually leads to loneliness: a man on his knees who continues to deceive himself and others. Franz crosses a group of kids having fun playing unsuspectingly and resumes his crazy bike ride.

original name: ID.
Directed by: Ira Sachs
Cast: Franz Rogowski, Ben Whishaw, Adele Exarchopoulos, Caroline Chagnollo, Theo Cholbi, William Nadilam, Lea Boublil
Distribution: MUBI and Lucky Red.
Duration: 91′
Origin: France, 2023

Film score by Sentieri Selvaggi

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