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The movie has a very Hitchcockian setup, and those who haven't seen any of director Michelangelo Antonioni's other works may get their hopes up for a plot-driven, globe-trotting thriller. However, having watched La Notte, I was prepared for the slow existential wandering that the rest of the film engages in. The cinematography is quite incredible and really elevates this movie.
Highly acclaimed Antonioni film has amazing cinematography, but its enigmatic tale of hopelessness and loneliness will either hypnotize you or drive you to tears of boredom.
I found this to be a dry, artsy fartsy film, sure to bore anyone you show it to. Beautiful looking but didn't entertain me much
Antonioni's masterpiece with incredibly astonishing performance by then a proper actor Jack Nicholson, undoubtedly one of his best performances, before he plunged into easy roles for him as an ironic and sarcastic man with mysterious smile. It's also nice to see the lovely Maria Schneider in a different from Last Tango role.
Proving himself to be versatile when it comes to languages, Michelangelo Antonioni's The Passenger boasts an incomparable turn from Jack Nicholson, and some of the most stunning camerawork I have ever seen in a motion picture.
"I used to be somebody else, but I traded him in"
"The Passenger" is a fascinating movie, a cinematic and philosophical masterpiece. I love Antonioni, and this is one of his best. I have watched it several times through the years, each time opening for myself a new moment or a new meaning. The acting is superb, and so is the camera work. The final scene that lasts for seven minutes without anything really happening is sublime. There is also a deep philosophical theme in the movie, uniquely different from other films of the time that also show dissatisfied, lost, or marginalized characters.
Much has been written about the existential symbolism of the film, and it certainly pervades it on a grand scale. However, there is an interesting aspect of this movie which sets it apart from other existentialistic works. In a Sartre-like view, a man is alienated from reality and does not feel welcome in the world nor connected with mankind. But in "The Passenger", it is David Locke's own life that is actually hostile to him. Let me try to explain what I mean. Like many people, he is trying to run away from mundane reality, the job that has been making him jaded, the marriage that's lost its flame. However, instead of making piecemeal changes, he tries to replace his life as a whole - reject it and become someone else. And now it is life itself that's after him, ready to punish him for violating the rules of engagement. It's as if he is just a vessel owned by life, which destroys him as soon as he tries to take matters in his own hands.
At some point in the movie David says that he used to be somebody else, but traded him in (by the way, what a fabulous line). He boasts - he thinks he is in control of his life choices, but will soon find out otherwise. What crushes him in the end is not fate or circumstances or his past that catches up with him - it is life itself, ejecting an unruly passenger. Such juxtaposition of life with a man as a separate, all-powerful entity is unique in the artistic portrayal of existential struggle.
The original title of the movie (in Italian) was "Profession: Reporter". This title would have made perfect sense if the character was an estranged observer of life. However, Jack Nicholson's character is truly a passenger - he is not in the driver's seat, and his privileges are pretty limited. His connection to life is neither cordial nor caring, the same way as there is no human connection between a train passenger and the train operator. David Locke has violated the rules, and his ticket is canceled. The train will continue forward without him.
Captivating and mysterious Maria Schneider plays The Girl. As David jumps from one city to another, he keeps running into her. She is quite an ephemeral character, floating from place to place, seemingly not attached to any mundane or conventional activity like work or family. Having no name in the movie suits her character perfectly - one less connection to real life. Perhaps this is the only kind of people who David can interact with now and who can deal with him. When the police ask David's wife to identify his dead body, she says she doesn't know him. It is true - he has become a complete stranger to her. But when they ask the girl if she knows David, she says yes. Even though they have met only recently, they seem to be people of the same kind. Perhaps like him, the girl is also a passenger? Perhaps we all are.
"- I've run out of everything - my wife... the house... an adopted child... a successful job... everything except a few bad habits I could not get rid of."
A movie about identity crisis
I don't give 5 full stars to many films but this really deserves them. This is an unusual, original story with an excellent cast and beautiful locations. I think the main draw of this is that you see that the mind of such a cool character like Nicholson's is nowhere near as cool underneath. The contrast is disturbing, the whole idea of this story is disturbing but it does look so nice, another film metaphor for a Smiths song.
Quite slow film with a solid story and sublime images and color usage. Jack Nicholson is portraying a war reporter that manage to fake his death to escape his life. He seems fed up with it.
Things does not turn so much better, but we are taking a trip around Europe as he hooks up with people. A mixture of "Bonnie & Clyde" and "No Country For Old Men" but never as tense. This is slow, pretty and got a very European look. Great acting and a fantastic final shot that will be the thing to remember from this quite disappointing film me.
6.5 out of 10 cigarette bummers.
A lesser director would have made an overbearing international thriller, but Director Antonioni has taken this story about a man yearning to escape his own identity (played wonderfully by Jack Nicholson) and made it into a blunt portrait of existential isolation.