Brian De Palma is still pervin' y'all. He's pervin' hard. And this is an excellent thing.
Because to love Brian De Palma's films is to love them even when he's intentionally messing with you, even when he rubs your nose in the goofiest trash he can find. It's trash of his own making, of course, outlandishness lifted directly from his back catalog of lurid sensation, so it also feels like a reunion with a weird old friend, the kind who's obsessed with the kinkier side of Alfred Hitchcock, Emmanuelle movies, sensual body lotions and smooth jazz sax solos.
Remake is the word of the day on all levels here, since the plot is that of Alain Comeau's 2010 thriller, Love Crime, and the rest is vintage De Palma. Taken out of France, this English language version is still plenty Euro, set in a vague, blue-tinted, ESL cold zone, starring Rachel McAdams as ball-busting advertising executive and Noomi Rapace as her black-hearted protege. When McAdams takes the credit for Rapace's weirdly old-fashioned commercial for a phone (one that cutely doubles as an ass-cam while riding in the back pocket of jeans) it sparks a competitive marathon of sharkish, she-bot backstabbing, both corporate and corporeal. Affairs are conducted and crushed, sabotage escalates to criminal levels, makeouts go down, people get stabbed in the neck.
Keeping all this moving is easy for De Palma. He's mastered the art of the unhinged atmosphere. There's always something just this side of wrong about the scenarios supporting his leading ladies. They're two super-driven and mega-competent women of business who are so weird at their jobs, such wizardesses of anti-corporate behavior, that nobody around them seems to understand what that business is about. So why shouldn't they also turn into minxy, sex-mask-wearing, lingerie-lounging lesbians, dabbing explosively red lipstick onto quivering lips? They should, is what. It's just one more strategy for getting ahead in a movie-world where HR departments don't exist and drawers full of sex toys become instruments of corporate domination, a hilarious "Skinemax" Legoland of glossy shoe fetishes, Basic Instinct-inspired dialogue ("She likes to play games. She likes surprises."), secret identical twins, pill-popping, leather sex-slave dog masks, Ponzi schemes, characters forgetting the proper way to put cars in reverse, homemade porn, wet clothes, internet trolling, women's prisons, suicide fake-outs, ballet-themed murders, YouTube pranks, wacky crying jags and extreme advertising tactics that would turn Don Draper into a pillar of salt.
De Palma throws all of this together in a blender full of his signature stylistic punches -- split screens, dizzying tracking shots -- and tosses in a guessing game's worth of nods to earlier awesomeness like Dressed To Kill and Body Double. When he pushes the button it convulses and howls way past the point of distinctions like "good" or "bad," exploitation or art. It's howlingly silly and cheaply thrilling and I don't think he cares what you call him as long as it includes the word "genius." And he kind of is.