What happens when you put Franz Rogowski (Great Freedom), Adèle Exarchopoulos (Blue is the Warmest Color), and Ben Whishaw together in a film directed by Ira Sachs (Married Life)? The result is Passages, a love triangle drama layered with humor about a filmmaker who finds himself simultaneously drawn to two different people…
Tomas (Rogowski) asks his husband Martin (Whishaw) to dance at a party one night, and when he says no, Agatha (Exarchopoulos) volunteers. Tomas and Agatha spend the night together, and the first person Tomas rushes to tell about his first-time experience having sex with a woman is Martin. The two of them are not in a great place, and Tomas soon moves in with Agathe. He can’t quite bring himself to detach from Martin, and his failure to fully commit to either relationship frustrates both of his partners, who are well aware of the existence and influence on Tomas of the other.
It’s refreshing to see a film that doesn’t deal with affairs in a typical manner, in that its characters aren’t especially secretive or deceptive, just prone to predictable behavior. When Tomas meets Agathe’s parents, they bring up the fact that he was married to a man when he and Agathe first met, concerned about his dependability and fidelity to their daughter. Their worries are legitimate given that Tomas isn’t ready to give up on Martin even though he’s already blown up his life. Martin would rather be rid of Tomas, but there’s something about his charisma that that keeps pulling him back.
Rogowski is a lead who’s simultaneously endearing and irritating, never honestly owning up to his flaws and instead leaning on the knowledge that the people he loves will eventually forgive him. Exarchopoulos and Whishaw portray their characters as vulnerable to Tomas’ charms but also insistent on not being taken advantage of at a certain point. The three actors work marvelously together and contribute to a film that’s both a sincere relationship drama and a genuinely entertaining viewing experience peppered with lighthearted and relatable moments. B+