Passionada Movie Review

At first glance, Passionada may sound like a movie playing "after dark" on some seedy cable channel. To the contrary, the passion described in the title does not occur between the sheets; rather, it's the passion the characters of this small, genuine, Portuguese romantic comedy have for life and each other.

Set in the fishing town of New Bedford, Massachusetts, a beautiful middle-aged Portuguese woman, Celia Amonte (Sofia Milos) uses her day job as a seamstress to support her teenage daughter Vicky (Emmy Rossum) in the house she shares with her mother-in-law (Lupe Ontiveros). At night, she sings and dances at a local restaurant to a more somber beat, using her music as an expression for the loss she feels over her husband's death. Even seven years after his death, Celia feels she could never love another, despite Vicky's attempts to set her up on various online dates. When an English drifter and professional gambler named Charlie (Jason Isaacs) rolls in town to clean out the local casino, he quickly becomes taken with Celia and tries every trick in the book to con his way into her heart.

Charlie's aggressiveness turns Celia off, as well as us in the audience. The open-heartedness of Passionada makes it very easy to instantly connect with the Amonte family struggles, especially the aversion Celia has to moving on with her life. As the film progresses, and Charlie's attempts to win over Celia intensify, Passionada borders on being uncomfortable to watch. We know the real Charlie is a fraud, and because we now have a vested interest in the Amontes' plight, we're fearful Celia is destined to get her fragile heart broken again.

One of the film's biggest themes is being able confront the past and offer second chances to those who deserve them. Unfortunately, this makes Passionada entirely too predictable -- even its website boasts there is a "happy ending worth celebrating." There's no mistaking how it will finish; yet, director Dan Ireland adds so much depth and life to his film (compared to most romantic comedies) that the conventional story is outweighed by the film's charm. Passionada succeeds in placing us in the small fishing town where Ireland takes full advantage of his surroundings by enveloping us with beautiful pink-toned sunsets, gentle sweeping city vistas, and painted blue backdrops with fishing ships gracefully pulling to shore. Combined with a splash of Portuguese culture, food, and fado (Portuguese folk music), we see the true passion for life these people share.

Passionada can easily be described as this year's My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Both films' successes can be linked to the dynamic individuals at the core of their respective stories executed with performances that are first rate. Milos is highly compelling as the torn Celia - her pain plainly visible in her rumpled, withdrawn eyes. The striking Rossum struggles with her own identity, yet doesn't resort to playing Vicky with the typical teen angst we would expect. And as the family matriarch widowed for 35 years, Ontiveros doesn't come across as a bitter woman from the old world; rather, she is nurturing to the sensitivities of both the younger women and encourages them to improve their lives. Passionada shines through its predictability to carve a fascinating slice of life fable with an infectious charm.

Giddy from the go-round.


Comments

Passionada Rating

" Good "

Rating: PG-13, 2003

Advertisement

Editors Recommendations

Contrary To Her Song Lyrics, Lana Del Rey Worked Her Way To The Top

Lana Del Rey is no stranger to vicious rumours, but she definitely did not...

Contrary To Her Song Lyrics, Lana Del Rey Worked Her Way To The Top

Weird Al Scores First U.S Number 1 With New Album

The album was released only one week ago and sold 103,000 copies to secure the top...

Weird Al Scores First U.S Number 1 With New Album

Peaches Geldof's Cause of Death Confirmed as Heroin Overdose

The second daughter of musician Bob Geldof, Peaches Geldof was thrust...

Peaches Geldof's Cause of Death Confirmed as Heroin Overdose

Robert Downey Jr.IS Iron Man... But For How Long?

You know who he is. Robert Downey Jr.’s involvement in the Iron Man franchise has been...

Robert Downey Jr.IS Iron Man... But For How Long?

Hercules Extended Trailer

Following his deadly ordeal of being put through the Twelve Labours by his father Zeus and his...

Hercules Trailer

Miley Cyrus Appears in Pharrell's New Video 'Come Get It Bae'

Cyrus also features on the track's vocals, and -perhaps most shockingly of all- resists...

Miley Cyrus Appears in Pharrell's New Video 'Come Get It Bae'
Advertisement

Let Battle Commence: Superhero Studios Fight for Best Opening Weekend

We live in a movie world of superheroes at the moment with franchise...

Let Battle Commence: Superhero Studios Fight for Best Opening Weekend

After The Success of 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes', What's Next?

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has been a huge success both critically...

After The Success of 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes', What's Next?

'Mad Max: Fury Road' - New Stills and Poster Appear From Comic Con [Pictures]

Max Max: Fury Road was one of the most anticipated films at the...

'Mad Max: Fury Road' - New Stills and Poster Appear From Comic Con [Pictures]


More recommendations

Advertisement