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The Passenger (1975)

Cast: Jack Nicholson, Jack Nicholson, Maria Schneider, more...
Director: Michelangelo Antonioni, Michelangelo Antonioni, Hercules Bellville
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Genre: Drama
Running Time: 126 min.
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Thai
    see additional details...

The mutual admiration between actor Jack Nicholson and director Michelangelo Antonioni resulted in the psychological drama The Passenger. Nicholson plays David Locke, a disillusioned American reporter who is sent on a grueling mission to North Africa. When he stumbles across the body of a dead man, Locke, long desirous of starting life over again, assumes the corpse's identity. He soon discovers that the man he's pretending to be is involved in gun running on behalf of a terrorist group. Making the acquaintance of a mysterious woman (Maria Schneider), he finds a kindred spirit -- a woman as "lost" as he. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Nicholson finally not playing Nicholson by ChefCFP November 16, 2008 - 8:33 AM PST
1 out of 2 members found this review helpful
This is a quiet, ponderous thriller, which manages to capture the sense of place in every frame while still keeping the focus on the actors. This movie was so completely engrossing I missed a very obvious clue to the mystery from the early part of the film. This is also your only chance to see Nicholson playing someone other than himself.
This was the first full length feature I have seen of Antonioni's- the first work being his segment of Eros, which was so cliche ridden it was almost unwatchable. Hard to believe it was the same director who gave us this masterwork.

Nicholson's best by SBarnett August 7, 2006 - 8:29 AM PDT
3 out of 5 members found this review helpful
This is Jack Nicholson's best performance. Antonioni was the perfect director for him, and the character he plays in the film draws out his strengths as an actor and also as a thinker. If this last statement is a surprise to you, watch the film with Nicolson's commentary. It is by far the best commentary I've ever heard. Nicholson is so funny, wise, perceptive, and sensitive in his comments--a real treasure. As for the film, it's Antonioni's second best--not as revolutionary and daring as L'Avventura, but still full of unforgettable images and conversations, and a deep mystery to boot. This film has a quiet, subdued intensity that, without a drop of blood or a single explosion ("Was that a gunshot?") creates Hitchcock-level suspense but without his dictatorial, intrusive camera work and staging. So much has been written about the ending of this film, a historic continuous tracking shot through windows, walls, and doors--who did what, who knew what--suffice it to say that Antonioni makes you watch and listen to the film very carefully and demands that you create your own reading. Maria Schneider is not Monica Vitti, but very well suited to her role (Antonioni seems puzzled by her, which adds to the story). Jenny Runacre is unforgettable. The scenes shot in the Sahel are priceless--I was there only a few years after the film was shot, and it captures the place perfectly. An outstanding film, not to be missed.

Disappointment from a Master by talltale April 29, 2006 - 7:33 AM PDT
3 out of 5 members found this review helpful
If THE PASSENGER had been the first film I'd seen by Michelangelo Antonioni, it probably would have been my last. Enervating in the extreme, it rambles along (hyped-up occasionally by a car chase) and tells a poor story (as reality, it's full of holes; if symbolic, it's far too detailed). Unlike some of his earlier work ("L'Avventura," "L'Eclisse") in which there is much less dialog (leaving room for the mysterious), this one babbles on just enough to sink itself.

Nicholson is as restrained as he's ever been and not particularly interesting as actor or character; Maria Schneider offers some vivacity, at least, but she's along--literally and figuratively--only for the ride; and poor Jenny Runacre, is reduced once again to a one-note role, here as "the wife." (I have heard that Nicholson's commentary track on the DVD is quite good. I didn't have time for it now, but maybe I'll rent the film again down the road and have a listen.)

There are questions/possibilities raised by "The Passenger"--how/what/why we see, identity, responsibility--but nothing comes of anything. Antonionio is, as usual, fascinated by both architecture and the natural world, so--visually--the movie is occasionally quite beautiful. Perhaps it's the story (credited to Mark Peploe, who also had a hand in the screenplay) that was not the right match for the talents of this very special moviemaker. The movie was a dissapointment when I first viewed it back in 1975. It seems even worse today.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.03)
74 Votes
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