Written by: Mark Peploe (original story), Mark Peploe & Peter Wollen and Michelangelo Antonioni (screenplay), Miguel de Echarri (uncredited)
Directed by: Michelangelo Antonioni
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Maria Schneider, Jenny Runacre
My rating is simple, Watch It, It Depends, Skip it. Read my previous movie reviews!
A frustrated journalist assumes the identity of an arms dealer.
This is a movie for film students and critics. It's almost made to be studied and re-watched scene by scene. While it's introspective with sparse dialog, that makes the pacing slow.
How's it's put together competes with the actual story for your attention.
Another Antonioni film, and while I liked this more than Blow-Up (1966) (read my review), this also made me appreciate Blow-Up more. Blow-Up explored how a character sees a world, and The Passenger explores how a character lives in the world.
Journalist David Locke (Jack Nicholson) is stuck in the desert and unable to complete his documentary on African rebel fighters. When an Englishman in the same hotel dies in his sleep, Locke uses their resemblance to steal the man's identity.
Locke was tired and frustrated with his life. Robertson seemed to have it all. He meets an architecture student who asks him, "What are you running away from?" He's running away from everything. The concept is interesting, but this movie moves at a measured pace. With sparse dialog, it makes what is said all the more important. The ending could be irony or poetry.
It's an introspective movie aimed at a specific audience. That audience is likely film critics and students. It's isn't a movie to watch and enjoy as much as it should be re-watched and studied. I'm not sure that's a reason many people watch a movie though. They're well made films that require you to think about the concepts. You don't just watch The Passenger and Blow-Up, they are both movies that beg for a second watch so you can explore them.
The technical of how this is made and presented trumps the actual story. The camerawork is impressive with a number of long takes, including an in camera flashback.