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Originally published Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 3:04 PM

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‘Passion’: a rivalry that’s dressed to chill

A movie review of “Passion,” Brian De Palma’s hyperstylish psychosexual thriller starring Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace as business-world rivals.

Special to The Seattle Times

Movie Review 2 stars

‘Passion,’ with Rachel McAdams, Noomi Rapace. Directed by Brian De Palma, from a screenplay by De Palma and Nathalie Carter. 101 minutes. Rated R for sexual content, violence and language. Sundance Cinemas.

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Brian De Palma is at it again in his latest picture “Passion.”

Cribbing from Hitchcock with a splash of “Psycho”-flavored slasherade, a serving of Hitch-style hands-on strangulation and a ladleful of Bernard Herrmann-esque sonic hysteria courtesy of composer Pino Donaggio, De Palma has brought forth another hyper­stylish psychosexual thriller. It’s also very much in the perverse spirit of “Dressed to Kill.”

“Passion,” on the shelf for a year, isn’t in the same class as “Dressed to Kill,” by far De Palma’s best and most notorious movie, owing to the overfamiliarity of “Passion’s” subject matter and its overwrought-to-the-point-of-absurdity ending. But even middling De Palma is worth a look for fans.

What we have here is a tale of lust, deception, manipulation and murder. Quintessential De Palma, in other words.

Based on the 2010 French thriller “Crime D’Amour” and set in the high-powered world of advertising (in Berlin, actually), it pits a scheming female executive against her brainy protégé. The two are a study in contrasts, obviously drawn.

Rachel McAdams plays the schemer, Christine, a sexually voracious blond knockout who’s partial to deep-red outfits and lipstick. Noomi Rapace, as the protégé, Isabelle, starts off as an unassuming plain-Jane brunette with her black clothes and lack of makeup. As she becomes emotionally entangled with her boss, her look becomes more colorful, but her psychological outlook becomes much, much darker.

After Christine brazenly steals Isabelle’s brilliant concept for an ad campaign and passes it off as her own, it’s turnabout-is-fair play time. “I watched you. I listened. I learned,” Isabelle tells Christine. From then on, scorpions in a bottle have nothing on these ladies.

Soren Andersen:

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