The Heart Wants What It Wants
Passages finds empathy in frustration
A romantic view of love is that it is a completely selfless, giving thing that enriches people's lives and humanity in general. A more cynical view of love is that it is an extremely selfish thing, a detriment to others' happiness, and in the worst cases, destroys lives for one's own self-interests. I don't think it would take viewers long to guess what kind of love Ira Sachs' new film Passages (which is coming to the streaming site Mubi this month) is about.
The film's protagonist's selfishness and disregard for others can often be frustrating, but Sachs uses that flawed humanity to make some intriguing points about the nature of sexuality and romantic love.
Tomas (Franz Rogowski) is a successful film director who has just finished his latest project and during the wrap party, meets an alluring schoolteacher named Agathe (Adele Exarchopoulos). The meeting soon leads to a passionate love affair, naturally destroying his marriage to his husband Martin (Ben Whishaw). As Tomas' obsession with Agathe turns to love, he must confront his increasingly conflicted feelings for Martin. Is Tomas in love with both or is he just in love with himself?
Throughout the film, the main character makes terrible, irrational decisions but Sachs never truly judges him. In fact, the film's main strength is its deep empathy for all the characters involved. From this empathy, questions about sexual fluidity and the often confounding nature of love are pushed to the forefront. He creates a fascinating love triangle that is simultaneously sexy, ugly, heartfelt, irresponsible, and inherently human. Passages is currently playing in select theaters and comes to Mubi on Oct. 6.
Directed by Ira Sachs // Written by Sachs and Mauricio Zacharias // Starring Franz Rogowski, Ben Whishaw, Adele Exarchopoulos, Erwan Kepoa Fale, Theo Cholbi, Arcadi Radeff, Lea Boubill, Caroline Chaniolleau, and Olivier Rabourdin // SBS Productions // 92 minutes // Rated NC-17