Passion of Mind (Film)

(Paramount Classics)

Written by C.E. Chambers and published by The Journal Newspapers [Weekly] Movie Edition on June 20, 2000.

The BBC TV channel recently aired footage of a British comedian asking Demi Moore [“Indecent Proposal,” “Striptease”] this question: “If it wasn’t too objectionable or gratuitous, would you accept a role in a film where you didn’t have to take off your clothes?”

That time is now.  Sort of.

“Passion of Mind” is an odd psychological puzzle about a woman living out parallel lives on two different continents.  The simplistic ending may make mental health professionals cringe, but the slowly unfolding, intriguing storyline will fascinate amateur sleuths.

Let’s take a trip to the French countryside.  Marie, a widow and mother of two young girls, critiques books for the New York Times.  She tucks the girls into bed each night — and wakes up in New York as Marty, a single, high-powered business woman who works for a literary agency.  Her provincial house with latticed windows and rustic garden changes each time to a trendy apartment decorated with rare antiques…and a gnawing loneliness.

Jessica, Marie’s close friend in France, has been encouraging her for months to see a Viennese psychologist.  During the first session, the doctor asks, “What Manhattan career woman would dream of being a housebound widow in France?”  The mind is not built to ride two horses, he says; give up the dangerous fantasy.

Marty regularly visits a psychologist in New York who snidely refers to the Viennese psychologist as Dr. Freud.  Since her life in the U.S. is arduous and without any real romance, who would fantasize about that? he rhetorically asks.

The confused woman’s emotions reach an apex when she begins sexual relationships with two different men (Stellan Skarsgård, William Fichtner).  They both seem to understand her unspoken needs, maybe one more than the other.  Which one is real — the handsome one with an “edge,” or the non-demanding one who gives her silver earrings suitable for a dual wardrobe, not to mention a split personality??

Demi Moore is listless in both roles.  Maybe it’s intentional: one of the lovers tells Marie, a widow of two years, that she’s finally coming out of her “coma.”  In addition, the cinematography is dull and washed-out looking — except for the cobalt blue-colored car, wall, and wrapping paper of the two environments — which gives the film a one-dimensional, Alice in Wonderland look.  It’s a movie without real beauty, joy, or sadness.  It’s one to ruminate over, though, for a long time afterwards…something audiences could use more of.

(PG-13: brief, non-explicit sex scenes)

Written by C.E. Chambers and published by The Journal Newspapers [Weekly] Movie Edition June 20, 2000.

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