Director: Michelangelo Antonioni
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Maria Schneider & Jenny Runarce
I am big fan of Jack Nicholson, actually scratch that, I am a huge fan of Jack Nicholson, I don’t think there is an actor whom has captured my imagination more or has truly embodied my love of film like Jack, I also believe that few actors have had as legendary a run of films like Jack had between 1970 to 1975, If you think back you will see Jack give immortal performances in films such as ‘Five Easy Pieces’, ‘ The Last Detail’, ‘Chinatown’, ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest’ and this film Michelangelo Antonioni’s ‘The Passenger, The film, also known as ‘Profession: Reporter’ has been one I have attempted to track down for the longest of times, but a copy of the DVD has always seemed to evade me, but finally I was able to see ‘The Passenger’, ready to see my favorite actor of all time create another immortal performance.
David Locke is a Reporter who has become increasingly miserable with his life and profession, while researching for a documentary in the Sahara Desert, Locke meets a British reporter named David Robinson who seems to be happier than him and can appreciate life’s subtle beauties more than Locke, When Locke suddenly finds Robinson dead, he assumes his identity in an attempt to leave his old life behind.
I have seen others label this film a thriller, but to be honest I don’t see it, sure there are some intense moments and scenes throughout the film but I would not call this a thriller, maybe I just don’t want to, To me ‘The Passenger’ was a character study and possibly the most beautiful one I have ever seen. David Locke is one of the most fascinatingly complex characters I believe I have ever seen put on film, right alongside the likes of Nicholson’s other characters such as Robert Dupea & Randle P McMurphy, He is a deeply flawed man who has been broken down by the pain of life and the world he has discovered through his profession, From having personal experience I definitely felt that Locke had some form of depression and was struggling to live with it, I also noticed this due to his actions of assuming another mans identity, We would be lying to ourselves if we ever said that we wouldn’t for one second have wanted to be someone else, escape our life’s and start over, Locke sees the opportunity and fulfills the sad dream of us all.
Antonioni’s direction is pure subtle mastery, For such implausible events, Antonioni makes them feel as real as humanly possible, he also happens to share my belief that character is the most important element of a film, sure a great story is also a wonderful thing but what does it matter if we don't give a damn about the characters ?
Jack Nicholson’s performance in this film is absolutely and utterly incredible, I say this not only as a fan of his but as a fan of Acting in general, once again Mr Nicholson captured my imagination and once again I will call him my favorite actor of all time. There is a moment in this film when Nicholson gives a speech about a blind man he once knew, who gained vision and saw the world for what it really was, Its an amazing scene and really sums up my exact thoughts on society.
If you read this review, you may notice that I had a very personal connection to this film, and honestly I don’t think there is another film that I can connect with more on a personal level. The film is genuine, glorious, tragic, truthful and incredible, If you have never seen ‘The Passenger’ please do yourself a favor.