Mean Girl Grows Up

10.13.12

Rachel McAdams Returns to ‘Mean Girls’ Roots With Kinky Bisexual Role in ‘Passion’

After years of playing the good girl, Rachel McAdams returns to her ‘Mean Girls’ roots with a deliciously entertaining turn as a bitchy, kinky, bisexual ad executive in ‘Passion,’ writes Marlow Stern.

After making her Hollywood debut as the bitchy high-school queen bee in 2002’s The Hot Chick, cutesy Canadian actress Rachel McAdams became a star after her turn as Regina George, the ruthless head of a clique of girls—dubbed “the plastics”—that terrorized their school in the 2004 comedy classic Mean Girls.

While her on-screen foil, Lindsay Lohan, took to wreaking havoc on the nightclub circuit, McAdams went on to star in the sob-inducing chick flick The Notebook later that year, and was soon crowned “the next Julia Roberts.”

In early 2006, McAdams, along with two other rising Hollywood actresses—Keira Knightley and Scarlett Johansson—was invited by guest editor Tom Ford to be featured on the March 2006 cover of Vanity Fair, shot by famed photographer Annie Liebovitz. McAdams' publicist had neglected to inform her that the actresses would be posing nude, so when she arrived on the set she was surprised, and left. Ford stepped in to replace her, and McAdams later fired her publicist. 

“She did want to do it, and then when she was on the set I think she felt uncomfortable, and I didn’t want to make anybody feel uncomfortable” Ford told ABC’s Good Morning America.

Following the episode, McAdams withdrew from Hollywood in 2006 and 2007 to focus on her personal life, eventually reemerging with a series of lower-profile roles in the indie films Married Life and The Lucky Ones. She would eventually regain her leading lady status in the romantic drama The Vow, released in Feb. 2012, which earned close to $200 million worldwide.

In Passion, a kinky Brian De Palma thriller that screened at the New York Film Festival, McAdams has once again dug her stiletto heels into the role of a saucy villainness—a grown-up version of Regina, if you will.

The film opens with Christine (McAdams), a Machiavellian executive at a Berlin-based ad firm, cozied together on a couch with rising ad star Isabelle, played by Noomi Rapace. The pair needs to conceive an innovative ad campaign for a new Panasonic mobile phone. Christine is very flirtatious, giggling, caressing, and locking eyes with her ambitious underling. When their brainstorming session is interrupted by the arrival of her sleazy British sex toy, Dirk (Paul Anderson), Christine is noticeably perturbed. She kisses Isabelle goodbye—on the mouth.

We’re then treated to a tight close-up of McAdams’s face against a bedpost. She is, judging by her half-hearted squeals, receiving mediocre oral sex. Suddenly, a man’s head emerges in the frame wearing a hybrid Phantom of the Opera Kabuki mask.

This all looks like the start of a beautiful lesbian affair—that is, until Isabelle crafts a knockout ad campaign for the phone, a campaign for which Christine immediately takes credit. Christine, it seems, needs to knock this out of the park so she can receive a promotion and transfer back to the company’s Manhattan offices. Isabelle doesn’t take the move lying down, and immediately uploads her commercial to YouTube. After it goes viral, it’s Isabelle who receives all the kudos from the company brass, and the proverbial claws come out.

Passion could easily be retitled Mad Women, with its sleazy ad biz setting and estrogen overload. When the pouty Dani (Karoline Herfuth), Isabelle’s redhead sexy assistant—who also has a crush on her—calls out Christine on her shady behavior, Christine replies, “You want to eat my c--t, don’t you?” before violently kissing her, ripping her own blouse, and threatening her with a charge of sexual harassment. It’s a pretty jarring scene—especially the usage of the c-word—coming from the typically virtuous McAdams, whose cute visage, replete with a small face, a beauty mark, and kind, blue eyes is disarmingly sinister when she flips the switch.

In ‘Passion,’ a kinky Brian De Palma thriller, McAdams has once again dug her stiletto heels into the role of a saucy villainess.

Later, after Dirk refuses to service Christine, she calls up every man in her phone until someone will come over and pleasure her. The action then cuts to Christine on the phone in a bathtub, as two hands place a shiny diamond necklace around her neck. Then the man’s face comes into frame, and he’s wearing a black leather pig-shaped gimp mask.

While Passion makes several leaps in logic and is, like so much of De Palma’s recent oeuvre, overstylized, with flashy visuals and a Hitchcockian score, this kinky B-movie is redeemed by Rapace and, in particular, McAdams, who will hopefully take a trip to the dark side more often.