The Passenger review by The Grim Ringler
I think it would be hard to find someone who hasnt wondered What If? at least once in their lives. Heck, I think most of us, given the right moment, can spend a lot of time wondering how we, or our lives may have been different had this or that happened. None of us will ever be able to do more than ponder this question, but in The Passenger, well be able to walk into that world of What If and see what truly might have been.
Jon works for a corporate advertising firm and is none to happy about it. He is a painter who has put his passion and his art aside so he can concentrate on his career, something he is still coming to terms with. Jon works with his childhood best friend though, which makes things more tolerable and gives him someone to confide in. Life has been ordinary for Jon as he slips into the deep waters of adulthood, but hes still looking for that one thing that will make his life more fulfilling, be it a fling or finding the one. One night at a club, hell find both options and more, as he encounters three women who will change his life forever. One woman will open his heart, one his mind, and the third his life, but in the end, the question becomes not who Jon could be, but truly, who he is.
I hate to be so sketchy about the plot but, really, this is a film that is better left to open for you like a flower. The interesting thing, well, one of many, is that this film comes across as an anthology film with a core person it works out from. The heart of the story is Jon, and actor Edward Zeimis nails this character, a key to the stability and strength of the film. Jon is at the awkward age where your life feels like its becoming more concrete than clay and youre expected to settle down and grow up. Unsure which path to take, this is his journey, and one that we can all empathize with. The story and direction from director Jamie Sonderman is fantastic and he is able to bring a strong cast and story together into a film that could easily have fallen apart. Its a credit to all involved that each of the three (arguably four or five, but thats another story altogether) tales come together and even intertwine to become one large story, and that each story feels as weighty as the one before it. Its no easy feat either to mix in some of the ideas here, and weighty ideas these are. Fate, true love, addiction, death, friendship, and in the end, who we are as people are all the ideas and questions raised, none being answered and the audience left with a lot of their own questions.
Shot in Detroit as part of a film collective called Living for Sundance, and with the help of production company Thought Collide, The Passenger is a very well made film. With great acting and music selection, this is a film that deserves to be seen. The music was well chosen, the film well shot, and at never once did I lose sight of the story. I could name off all the actors involved but, truly, this is an ensemble piece and everyone lives up to their end of the bargain and nails their character. It was great, for me, too, to see Detroit in such a positive light and not shown as idyllic but as a real, vibrant city with life of its own. This is an impressive work.
If I have a quibble, its just that, a quibble. There are moments in the film, I can think of a drug scene in particular, where things drag on a little longer than they need, but that was the biggest issue I had. Some may tune out by the third option, but there are so many great plot points that come back into play and that really paid off.
This is a damned good movie. It makes me awfully proud that people from this area did it because they loved the story and love movies created such a well-made, professional film. This is a funny, sad, surprising film, and I hope more people get to see it. If The Passenger is any sign, Jamie Sonderman is a director to watch for and this group of filmmakers Living for Sundance and Thought Collide are two very important additions to the film world.
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