Between Frequency, Me Myself I, The Sixth Sense, and Sliding Doors, we’ve seen an awful lot of recent movies about folks surfing the space-time/living-dead continuum. Being two places at once has become the cinematic panacea for contemporarily ambivalent heroes and heroines, relieving them, at least temporarily, of the pain of having to make adult choices or accept adult loss. Passion of Mind, a weirdly rococo and psychologically nonsensical application of this formula, presents Marie (Demi Moore), a widowed American book critic with two little daughters, who happily resides in the photogenic French countryside. But Marie is also Marty (Moore again), an unattached literary agent who lives an equally full life in hard-driving New York City. To switch from one existence to another, all Marie/Marty needs to do is fall asleep, because her dreams are her chariot. But which version is reality, which fantasy?
In both lives (concocted in a Cuisinart by Stepmom’s Ron Bass, and directed by Ma Vie en Rose’s Alain Berliner), wouldn’t you know, the alluring heroine is pursued by an ardent man. Confused about everything except what to wear — a fortune appears to have been spent on Moore’s wardrobe, under which the actress herself seems sapped of star power — Marie is pursued by William (Good Will Hunting’s Stellan Skarsgard), while Marty is courted by Aaron (Go’s William Fichtner, ”stretching” as a romantic rather than a character actor). Marie’s also got a confidante in Sinead Cusack, while Marty’s got a shrink in Peter Riegert.
But nobody’s got a clue — not about what’s really eating Marie/Marty, not about what she’s doing in the French hills wearing a bomber jacket that says ENOLA 57. Will Marie/Marty have to give up one of her swanky lifestyles in the service of mental health? Enquiring minds don’t even want to know. D+