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Paramount Studios presents
Passion of Mind (2000)

"Why do I have to lose anything at all? I don't want to give up either of them."
- Marie/Marty (Demi Moore)

Review By: Dale Dobson   
Published: September 27, 2000

Stars: Demi Moore, Stellan Skarsgard, William Fichtner
Other Stars: Sinead Cusack, Peter Riegert, Joss Ackland, Chaya Cuenot
Director: Alain Berliner

Manufacturer: PDSC
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for scenes of sexuality
Run Time: 01h:45m:08s
Release Date: September 19, 2000
UPC: 097363374442
Genre: drama

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B C+B-A D-

DVD Review

Passion of Mind stars Demi Moore as a troubled woman who believes she is leading two lives—one as Marie, a widowed book critic and mother of two living in rural France; the other as Marty, a mover and shaker in the literary world of New York City. When she falls asleep in one life, she wakes up in the other, and she has no way of knowing which life is real, if indeed one is not. As Marie, she meets William (Stellan Skarsgard), a writer savaged by one of her reviews who desires an audience with her concerning his current work-in-progress; as Marty, she encounters Aaron (William Fichtner), a lawyer who's not nearly as mercenary as first he seems. When Aaron and William become jealous of each other, Marie/Marty fears losing them both; she risks choosing the dream lover at the expense of her relationship in the real world.

Director Alain Berliner recognizes the potential of this concept, and the film is careful not to tip its hand too soon. Both "lives" are treated with naturalism and continuity, giving Marie/Marty's actions weight and consequence in both parallel stories. But the dramatic tension of the first two acts can't go on forever, and the story paints itself into a corner—after setting up an intriguing idea, it has limited room to maneuver when it becomes necessary to find an ending. I don't want to give away the conclusion; let me just say that no satisfying options present themselves, and the film seems to end simply because it has run out of time, rather than for any "organic" reason.

There are good performances here—William Fichtner and Stellan Skarsgard (neither the conventional leading-man type) are genuinely sweet and romantic as Marie/Marty's rival lovers, and Demi Moore plays her character's emotional ups and downs with commitment and honesty. Joss Ackland and Peter Riegert seem to be having fun as psychoanalysts to Marie and Marty, respectively, and there's a natural feel to the acting in general. But there's a subtle, pervasive lack of substance in the characterizations, perhaps because everyone's reality is constantly in question; the film's foundation virtually forbids such earthbound concerns.

In the end, Passion of Mind fails to take full advantage of its intriguing premise, never taking it far enough to rouse an emotional reaction. The end result is oddly safe and cold, as though the film went from concept to screen with little passion in the making. It's a neat idea that goes subtly but decisively wrong along the way.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: C+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Paramount presents Passion of Mind in its original 2.35:1 widescreen theatrical aspect ratio, with an anamorphic transfer. Color fidelity is excellent, handling the subtle fleshtone variations between Demi Moore's personae very nicely, and shadow detail is solid. The source print is clean and crisp, as expected for a recent release, and the image is generally well-defined. Unfortunately, the disc suffers from quite a bit of shimmer on fine detail, especially when the camera is moving; one gets the impression that this single-layer disc's bit budget wasn't quite sufficient for the film's more complex shots. It's a watchable transfer, but the occasional instability does distract the eye.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Passion of Mind is graced with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, as well as a downmixed DD 2.0 Surround track. The 5.1 soundtrack sounds just great, with clear, crisp dialogue, broad frequency range for Randy Edelman's enveloping score, and surprisingly active surrounds providing subtle, naturalistic atmospheric effects. The 2.0 track is significantly "flatter" than the 5.1 track, with slightly muddied dialogue, though it's not bad at all. Clear digital mastering (presumably from the theatrical Dolby Digital track) makes this a superb audio experience, especially given the film's quiet overall tone.

Audio Transfer Grade: A


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 20 cues
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Paramount provides Passion of Mind with minimal extras, just 20 picture-menu chapter stops, English subtitles, and the film's theatrical trailer, presented with a rather soft non-anamorphic 1.85:1 transfer panned-and-scanned from the 2.35:1 feature film. Just the basics here, nothing to inform or entertain.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

Passion of Mind is one of those films that takes a genuinely interesting premise and doesn't do much with it. Paramount's DVD sounds terrific, but it has some picture quality issues and features no real supplements. Rental only.


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