“Passion Play” – 2010. Dir. Mitch Glazer

With Mickey Rourke, Megan Fox, Kelly Lynch with Rhys Ifans and Bill Murray

“Normal? Fuck normal! When the hell has normal ever won a goddamn prize!?”

“Passion Play” is an interesting little film. It’s currently peaked at a 4% on Rotten Tomatoes and has been bashed by everyone who has seen it. Well, I decided to check this movie out last night, to actually see how bad it is – and wouldn’t you know it – “Passion Play” is the best film I have seen so far this year.

Don’t make fun. It’s just like my opinion, man.

The cliché overly stylized film noir movie follows Nate Poole (Mickey Rourke), a three time loser who is on the lamb from a mobster Happy Shannon (Bill Murray), because he slept with Happy’s wife.

    Nate passes through a carnival, and meets Lily (Megan Fox) who’s a sideshow attraction. She’s a beautiful girl who has wings. Yes. Wings. Literally. Nate wants to rescue Lily from the carnival where she is held by a very flamboyant and sneering man named Sam (Rhys Ifans).

Nate has an ulterior motive to saving Lily. He wants to pitch an idea to Happy. He wants to set up an attraction to display Lily and her wings. He figures that he can share the profits with Happy in return for his life.

The film is fascinating. It’s very corny and cliché, but it works and the writing is amazing. The actors are given very juicy and pulpy lines of dialogue to bounce off one another. This noir in this film feels very much like a John Huston film. And when Rourke and Murray interact with one another, it very much reminds me of the chemistry Humphrey Bogart and Edward G. Robinson had in “Key Largo”.

    Mickey Rourke is perfectly cast as the washed out trumpet player. The oxymoron of style and patheticness that Rourke brings to these roles feel so authentic and so real. The vulnerability and poise that Rourke brings is great, and this performance should be high on the list of his career best.

I’ve never seen Megan Fox in anything that I know of. She’s fine as the innocent tart (which begs the question, can a tart really be innocent). She’s a lot better than I expected. I suppose she plays her character rather vaguely – which is perfect.

Bill Murray has turned into quite an interesting actor. Ever since his ego explosion that was “Lost in Translation” I think he has carefully picked his roles. Which is why “Ghostbusters 3” hasn’t been made yet – I can’t even imagine what a nightmare of a script that is.

    As Happy Shannon, Billy Murray gives us a very subtle and subdued performance that I think could be his very best. Murray isn’t funny. Nothing he says is funny, though he has the opportunity to put a twist on it, and give a wickedly good performance as a gangster named Happy Shannon.

Everything about Murray’s performance is calm and cool. I never really thought Murray could give a straight performance. Think of his best, “Groundhog’s Day”, “Lost in Translation”, “Rushmore” – he’s very good, but he’s still Bill Murray.

Alright, I’ll just say it. Bill Murray is perfect in this movie. He gives such a small performance, but the progression his character makes is pretty amazing, given the limited screen time and development we get of his character. Bill Murray is going to win an Oscar yet. Just you wait and see.

I mean, my little Cinnamon Girl is going to see this. So you should too.

“Passion Play” is a very offbeat and bizarre movie. If “Passion Play” were directed by David Lynch, David Cronenberg or even the Coen Brothers, critics would have loved the shit out of it. Sometimes people just hate a movie to jump on the bandwagon. “Heaven’s Gate” ring any bells?

Rating: 10/10