Passion Play, the debut feature from screenwriter Mitch Glazer, has been described as a fable. More appropriately, I’d say, it is a self-indulgent sexual fantasy run amok. Starring Mickey Rourke as a jazz musician who runs afoul of a gangster (by sleeping with his wife, naturally), the film offers superficial romantic noodling that kicks off when he comes across a girl in a carnival who sports real wings (Megan Fox). Perhaps it’s needless to say, but Rourke and Fox are a thoroughly mismatched screen couple, who exude zero screen chemistry with one another. Rourke possesses a down and out shaggy dog appeal only works in a very limited, realistic range of films. Fox is a sex kitten with little depth. This is probably her greatest acting challenge to date, and she fails miserably. When the film asks the two to play off one another, the results are disastrous. When sparks fail to ignite between the two in a story that entirely depends upon us getting caught up in their future together, the whole enterprise collapses.
Bill Murray, playing Happy, the previously mentioned gangster, is the clearest asset here, doing what he can by adding his signature comic timing to what is pretty sorry material. Glazer has no obvious skill behind the camera. His imagery recycles noir stereotypes to little effect, and the overall mood here recalls the L.A.-centric work of Alan Rudolph, with next to none of the quirky charm. Based on the way that Glazer trots about his real-life spouse Kelly Preston in Passion Play (she rarely wears more than underwear, and sometimes wears less), one could uncharitably read the movie as an autobiographical story about trophy wives. That’s disturbing, but par for the course, given the rest of Passion Play’s vapid, sexist content. A last ditch effort to add a spiritual dimension to the preceding wankery falls as flat as the rest of the film. Awful.