It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
When Marie is asleep in France, Marty is awake in New York. When Marty is asleep in New York, Marie is awake in France. Both women are played by Demi Moore in Alain Berliner's "Passion of Mind," a film that crosses the supernatural with "an interesting case of multiple personality," as one of her shrinks puts it. She has two shrinks. She needs them. She doesn't know which of her lives is real and which is the dream. Whenever she goes to sleep in one country, she wakes up in the other. Multiple personalities are bad enough, but at least she doesn't have eager kidneys; getting up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom could lead to schizophrenic whiplash.
The movie uses its supernatural device to show Moore's characters living two contrasting lifestyles. In France, she leads a quiet life as a book reviewer and rears her two daughters. In New York, she's a powerful literary agent who dedicates her life to her career. In France, she meets William (Stellan Skarsgard). In New York, she meets Aaron (William Fichtner). They both love her. Each of her personalities, Marty and Marie, is aware of the other and remembers what happens in the other's life.
Like "Me Myself I," the recent movie starring Rachel Griffiths, this movie is about a woman's choice between family and career. In the Griffiths film, a busy single writer is magically transported into a marriage with a husband and three kids. If she could have led both lives at once, as Marie/ Marty does, I think she would have been OK with that. And as Marty and Marie trudge off to complain to their shrinks, I was wondering why it was so necessary to solve their dilemma. If you can live half of your life quietly in France and the other half in the fast lane of Manhattan, enjoy parenthood and yet escape the kids, and be in love with two great guys without (technically) cheating on either one--what's the problem? When you're not with the one you love, you love the one you're with. If it works, don't fix it.
Of course it doesn't work. If one of the worlds is real and the other is a dream, and if you cannot be in love with two men at once, then what happens if you commit to the dream man and lose the real one? This preys on the mind of Marie/Marty, who also dreads what could happen if the two worlds mix in some way. She won't let one guy spend the night, because "if someone were to be with me and wake me up, something bad might happen." It is that very problem that the movie never quite solves logically. Forgive me for being literal. The time difference between New York and France is six hours. How does that fit into your sleep schedule? If she is awake until midnight in France, does that mean she's asleep all day in New York, and wakes up at 6 p.m.? Are there 24 hours in a day for both characters? These questions are cheating. Forgive me for thinking of them. They obviously occurred to the screenwriters, Ron Bass and David Field, who just as obviously decided to ignore them. The movie is not about timetables but life choices, and to a degree it works. We see Marie/Marty pulled between two worlds, in love with her children, attracted to the two guys. The problem is, that's it. We master the situation in the first 40 minutes, and then the wheels start spinning. What's needed is a way to take the story through some kind of U-turn.