Passages review: Ira Sachs’ relationship drama dazzles and frustrates

“Are you going to stay for a long time?” Agathe (Adèle Exarchopoulos) asks Tomas (Franz Rogoswki) the moment he arrives at her apartment leaving his longtime partner Martin (Ben Whishaw). Agathe is fully aware of Tomas and Martin’s affair- she gets to know him through Martin, and yet the suggestion that she can seduce a gay man is too good to let go. But at the cost of what? It is in these small transgressions that Ira Sachs’s explosively sexy and gorgeous film builds on. (Also read: Smoke Sauna Sisterhood review: One of the best documentaries of the year)

That Tomas is a massive narcissist doesn’t take long to register in the very first scene- he is a progressive film director based in Paris who calls the shots, and his need for perfection in a not-so-essential sequence of his film is key to understand how much a tantrum he can be sometimes. Or most times. After the film’s final day, Tomas is accompanied on the dance floor by a bored friend of the crew named Agathe- yet Passages is too electric a film to persist on that emotion for long, and their bodies collide to thrilling sexual tension. They have sex, and Tomas confronts Martin directly- who even without a word tells us the history of this toxic relationship. He storms out, and is soon drawn into a relationship with an upcoming French novelist, Amad (Erwan Kepoa Falé).

The curious case with Passages is how Sachs, working here with a script co-written by Mauricio Zacharias, treats these characters with no impending…

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