Verdict: Love triangles don't get more complicated and messy than the one depicted in Passages, which is well worth seeking out.

  • Ben Whishaw, Franz Rogowski, Adele Exarchopoulos
  • September 1st 2023
  • Ira Sachs

Franz Rogowski, Ben Whishaw and Adele Exarchopoulos become involved in a love triangle in Ira Sachs’ latest drama.

Passages is a truly international affair; American director Ira Sachs hired German and English actors and a French actress to star in his latest movie.

Passages tells the story of Tomas, a German film director who is married to an English printer named Martin (Whishaw). The couple, who lives in Paris, is struggling – the spark between them is fading and they don’t spend much quality time together.

Tomas looks for love, passion and excitement elsewhere and embarks on an affair with schoolteacher Agathe (Exarchopoulos).

Passages is a compelling but maddening portrait of a self-destructive person who seems to be casually ruining his life. Tomas is insatiable and uncontrollable and has no awareness of the impact his decisions have on others.

While you might not like Tomas’ actions, there is no denying that he is a complex character going on a fascinating journey.

And even though you don’t support his behaviour, it’s captivating watching him as you don’t know what he’ll do next.

When creating the screenplay, Sachs and his co-writer Mauricio Zacharias decided to just give the audience enough information and context to follow what is happening in the present instead of spelling it out for us.

They drop us into Tomas and Martin’s marriage without any backstory and we just have to infer their history, although we are helped by a few nuggets of detail.

Similarly, there are certain conversations that are not shown – these take place off-screen or the characters beat around the bush and avoid addressing the issue.

It was frustrating to miss some of these discussions – you can still follow the story afterwards but it would have been satisfying to see it play out. Thankfully, our patience is rewarded and there is an effective pay-off later on.

Rogowski is the star of the show as the loud and selfish Tomas, who is so brutally honest that you can’t help but laugh. While his big performance will capture everybody’s attention, Exarchopoulos and Whishaw give excellent, although quieter, performances.

Exarchopoulos has a very expressive face that speaks volumes and Whishaw’s Martin, who is quite a pushover at the beginning, embarks on a transformation of his own that’s gratifying to watch.

Love triangles don’t get more complicated and messy than the one depicted in Passages, which is well worth seeking out.

In cinemas from Friday 1st September.

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