There are many lovely issues to admire in director Ira Sachs’ newest movie, Passages (now in theaters). The film—about two males, Tomas (Franz Rogowski) and Martin (Ben Whishaw), whose marriage dissolves when certainly one of them begins a passionate affair with a lady named Agathe (Adèle Exarchopoulos)—is the kind of stereotypically French fare that you simply may discover should you stumbled into an indie film home on a Sunday afternoon. It’s crammed with attractive, extremely emotional individuals who casually betray one another in dimly lit bars, attractive loft flats throughout varied Parisian arrondissements, and even a rustic cottage pied-à-terre outdoors town. By no means thoughts that Sachs hails from Tennessee; on an atmospheric stage alone, he’s tapped into all the appropriate hallmarks of a sensual, unhappy French drama.
However even with all these fairly individuals and all of these beautiful places, I’ve been unable to cease interested by its most fascinating visible facet: Rogowski’s wildly titillating wardrobe.
Passages is a film stuffed to the brim with eye-catching objects at almost each flip, however there’s none extra placing than the costumes Rogowski’s Tomas wears. On first watch, one might imagine that Tomas’ clothes is solely a illustration of the character’s visible aptitude, and that’s actually true to a point; Tomas is a movie director who prides himself on element. However a deeper take a look at Rogowski’s costuming, and the way it’s used throughout the context of the movie’s twisty narrative, reveals his character’s monstrous motivations and narcissism. It’s some of the deceptively calculated (and albeit, completely erotic) wardrobes in any movie this 12 months.
[Some light spoilers for Passages ahead.]
Chances are you’ll be fooled into pondering in any other case from Passages’ opening scene. On the final shoot day for his newest movie, Tomas wears a fundamental black hoodie and a few informal grey slacks. It’s hardly the outfit of a burgeoning model icon. However later that evening, on the movie’s wrap social gathering, Tomas has shed his hoodie for a form-fitting, black knitwear high, which is loosely constructed to look sheer by means of the numerous holes in its material. It’s a assured selection, one which accentuates Rogowski’s slender body and taut musculature—and Agathe, who arrives on the wrap social gathering as good friend of certainly one of Tomas’ interns, can’t assist however preserve her eyes from falling on it whereas issues warmth up between them on the dance ground. A selection like this sweater tells Agathe every part it must about Tomas, with out him having to say a phrase over the pulsating music.
Finally, the pair wind up again at Tomas’ intern Erica’s residence, the place the social gathering continues. Each dance-floor darlings discover themselves alone within the kitchen, the place it turns into clear that the lustful aura surrounding them isn’t merely an impact of the booze. They transfer to a bed room and kiss, earlier than Agathe removes Tomas’ sweater, stripping the skinny layer of clothes that separated all of them evening and seeing the physique that she had solely been capable of think about by means of a darkish silhouette of pores and skin. Like dozens of different moments in Passages, it’s as positively carnal for the viewer as it’s for Agathe.
Costume designer Khadija Zeggaï labored carefully with Sachs in the course of the manufacturing to search out what outfits, colours, and shapes would greatest mirror a personality’s intentions in every scene. In dialog with Sachs for Platform, a model that collaborates with artists who work in several mediums, Zeggaï mentioned that Tomas’ signature colours have been drawn from that of German filmmaker Rainer Werner Fassbinder, whose colourful expressionist movies made him a revered mononym on the earth of cinema. In reality, the sheer knit sweater is Tomas’ darkest merchandise of clothes in all the movie. Following his first sexual encounter with Agathe, Tomas’ eccentricities (and lots of emotional deficiencies) explode by means of the colour, building, and match of his clothes.
Take Tomas’ dragon-printed sheer crop top, which has develop into maybe essentially the most infamous of Tomas’ outfits. This high seems in two totally different scenes within the movie, and never solely does its reappearance make the movie really feel extra human and relatable, nevertheless it additionally conveys one thing totally different each occasions it seems onscreen. After Agathe and Tomas’ first evening collectively, Tomas has begun to irreparably crack the muse of his relationship with Martin. However how his decisions have an effect on his husband is of little concern to Tomas, who continues the dance of entanglement with Agathe at his studio a couple of days after their preliminary tryst.
As soon as once more, the transparency of the sheer material conveys Tomas’ innate sexuality with out him having to say a phrase. It’s the type of clothes merchandise that’s so impossibly alluring that you simply’d ask a accomplice to maintain it on throughout intercourse, which is strictly what Tomas does whereas he and Agathe screw on the sofa. Later within the movie—after Tomas and Martin break up and Tomas begins dwelling with Agathe—Tomas wears the identical high with leopard print corduroy pants to go to Martin and focus on whether or not or to not promote their nation home. Exhibiting as much as your estranged husband’s flat along with your nipples clearly seen underneath a skinny piece of rayon material that accentuates the curvature of your pecs is actually a technique to make sure you’ll get what you need.
Tomas and Martin then have interaction in the perfect intercourse scene of any movie this 12 months, one which basically bought the movie slapped with an NC-17 ranking by the (allegedly!) homophobic nerds on the MPA, ensuing within the movie being launched in theaters unrated. You by no means see a single intercourse organ within the scene, nevertheless it’s nonetheless hotter than most precise porn, and their lovemaking is baited by Tomas’ garments as a lot as it’s his conceited confidence. That’s the facility of Tomas’ wardrobe; it’s meant to tease and tantalize in some moments, whereas speaking a kind of healthful domesticity in others. Tomas’ skill to weave between these two phenomena—intercourse and love—utilizing his clothes is what makes him such a deceivingly nefarious character.
A lot of Zeggaï’s costume decisions—just like the dragon crop high and a seafoam inexperienced sweater (once more, sheer) that Tomas wears in the midst of the movie—have been pulled straight from her personal closet. “This sweater, I had it for years,” she informed Sachs of their Platform dialog. “The crop high is a woman’s crop high. At first I purchased it pondering it was considerably specific, and also you informed me Franz ought to put on it—I believed it was an audacious and fascinating concept.”
That a big portion of Tomas’ wardrobe consists of smaller finds from Zeggaï’s personal assortment provides him a uniquely approachable high quality. The character is magnetic, capable of lure anybody into his destruction with solely an outfit and a coy smirk. Tomas’ sexuality is as fluid as his gender-transcendent wardrobe, and that wanton, irresistible sexuality is what makes Passages’ narrative arc so affecting.
Tomas is charming and undeniably seductive; he’s the type of individual you’d ensnare your self with even when it’s clear from their smug confidence that they’ll finally damage you. Rogowski suits into this mould—and all of Zeggaï’s gorgeous alternatives—effortlessly. Each the actor and the costumes work in tandem to conjure certainly one of artwork cinema’s most deliciously intoxicating villains in current reminiscence. However whilst ostentatious because the wardrobe could also be, Sachs’ route and Rogowski’s efficiency stay understated. It’s that push and pull between flamboyance and comfortable restraint that makes this troubled triad’s story (and Tomas’ destiny) really feel like a staggering blow to the guts, one which’s destined to finish up on as many year-end lists because it does outfit inspo blogs.