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The Crack Magazine

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Passages

Director: Ira Sachs

Stars: Franz Rogowski, Ben Whishaw, Adèle Exarchopoulos, Erwan Kepoa Falé

Co-written with Mauricio Zacharias, Ira Sachs’ latest is a far more austere and uncompromising examination of relationships than previous pictures such as the bittersweet ‘Love Is Strange’. German film director Tomas (Franz) lives with his British husband, graphic designer, Martin (Whishaw) in Paris. Tomas is a sensualist and libertine while Martin is more reserved and settled. At the wrap party for his latest picture, Tomas meets schoolteacher Agathe (Exarchopoulos). He is immediately, intensely attracted to her and they begin an affair. Rather than keeping it secret, Tomas shares details of his sexual encounter with his husband, even asking Martin to be happy for him. Against her better judgment, Agathe decides to take part in Tomas’s proposed ménage à trois arrangement. The scenario feels ripe for melodrama, but Sachs focuses more on quiet telling character moments, while also effectively illustrating the fevered attraction between the trio in a number of frank sex scenes. The ever-adaptable Rogowski stops short of rendering Tomas a totally monstrous narcissist via an almost pitiable display of emotional neediness, and Whishaw and Exarchopoulos deliver deeply moving performances as characters caught up in Tomas’s wake. There are moments of humour too: in an excruciatingly awkward meal with Agathe’s parents, Tomas turns up late in a midriff-exposing tight top and leopard skin pants - his de trop queer hipster wardrobe wittily realised by costume designer Khadija Zeggaï.

David Willoughby

Follow David on Twitter @DWill_Crackfilm

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