Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Passenger

The Passenger (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1975) [7]

Camus' The Stranger kept running through my mind while viewing this. They both take place in the overbearing desert of North Africa, both are overtly existentialist, and in each the protagonists make choices with no real explanation much beyond they did what they did. I'm a fan on Antonioni (L'Avventura being one of my favorite films) but his films always raise questions and never really answer them. Here, Jack Nicholson plays David Locke, a reporter who assumes the identity of a man he befriends in a remote hotel. He proceeds to be caught up in the man's profession of an arms dealer and attempting to avoid his old journalism colleagues and government men who want him dead. What is never really explained why David Locke makes this decision. Nicholson throughout the film plays it the same each way; he's not any different as an arms dealer than he was a reporter. More than likely that's the point Antonioni wishes to make, that identity cannot overtake the true soul of a man. But then again plot has never been the focus of his films. They always deal more with the relationship between man and the spaces he occupies, and the quiet gaps held within. That's no different here as there are tremendous shots of Nicholson alone against the desert, and the final scene. Even that being said, the questions left unanswered still eat at me afterwards. The Maria Schneider character, while being sort of an enabler for Locke, has just as many questions. My wanting to know the answers and not getting much, like in The Stranger, leave me conflicted on just how to feel about this.

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