31 July 2018 | gizmomogwai
A little funny, but a bit too disturbing
The Passion of Martin (1991), which appears as an extra in The Criterion Collection's Blu-ray release of Election (1999) shows a director with a lot of promise- and who admits to being a little embarrassed looking back on his student film. Based on the novel El túnel by Ernesto Sabato, it follows Martin, who has some minor recognition as a photographer (we can relate to the artist) but obviously has some screws loose (well, a few will relate to that too, at least at first). The Passion of Martin starts on some particularly strong notes- through narration, he speaks of his only nine months of happiness, and then we cut to his birth. We see his insane parents, and little Martin burying his father's ashes "at sea," and these are worth an approving chuckle.
Martin and Rebecca appear to have some chemistry, and both actors play their parts well. But while Rebecca thinks she's just entering a relationship, and that it might be serious one day but might turn to nothing, Martin is convinced they're truly in love. He picks apart at her messages, the humour quirky and sharp. Things turn notably darker when he uses his greater strength to hold Rebecca by her arms and pin her to the bed. But the ending is truly cringeworthy in the disturbing factor, and can be interpreted as misogynist.
Alexander Payne had quite a career ahead of him, and Passion of Martin is a notable first step. For that, we can be thankful for it.