Sexy lesbian thriller winds up Venice

VENICE, Italy - US director Brian De Palma, whose new thriller "Passion" wound up the Venice Film Festival on Friday, September 7, said that the movie was "a sexy murder mystery" and brushed off criticism of 1980s nostalgia as "phooey."

The 71-year-old De Palma also dismissed parallels with thriller master Alfred Hitchcock saying, "Hitchcock? Don't understand." When asked by one reporter about a small incongruity in the plot, he responded, "It's a dreeeeeeeam!"

"This is basically a sexy murder mystery. You should be shocked, you should be scored and you should be laughing because it's all at work," he said.

The story — a remake of the French film "Love Crime" — is based on the increasingly twisted interaction between two high-powered and emotionally disturbed female advertising executives — Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace.

There are strong lesbian overtones in the relationship and De Palma said he believed it could "definitely" win an award as a gay film. He said he also thought it could win the Golden Lion prize in Venice "if thrillers can win."

"Passion" is one of 18 films vying for the prize to be unveiled on Saturday, September 8.

"It had two extraordinarily good female characters and I thought I could make it better by keeping the identity of the murderess secret until the end," said De Palma, when asked for his reaction when he was asked to shoot the remake.

"The thriller, for me, has always represented the opportunity to tell stories completely visually," said De Palma.

"This is very much a film for women. They play off each other very well," said De Palma, whose 51-year career as a director includes hits like "Scarface" (1983) with Al Pacino and "Mission Impossible" (1996) with Tom Cruise.

Actress Rapace said the role disturbed her: "It got to my brain and my soul. I had the most crazy dreams and I felt dark inside."

She said she spent time with a doctor specializing in mental illness to prepare for the role. - Agence France-Presse