the passenger


watching michelangelo antonioni’s ‘the passenger’ is a stilling experience, not least of all because jack nicholson’s laconic way is better suited to this film than pretty much any other i’ve seen. the story of a man who disappears into the life of another for reasons best known to himself doesn’t rely on movie style or tricks, but conveys something of the inner life of a certain kind of person – he or she who does things for an inexplicable purpose. ‘i used to be somebody else but i traded him in’ says jack’s character, travelling from north africa to london to munich and barcelona by way of the map of the human soul. a character tells another that the questions we ask reveal more about us than the answers given. nothing much happens in this picture, except the transfixed gaze of the audience. and it made me feel like i was alive.

p.s. watch it with jack’s commentary on the dvd for a treasurable couple of hours in the presence of one of pop culture’s true originals.

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