Ira Sachs' 'Passages' is Not Just A Sexual Love-Triangle Story

Ira Sachs' 'Passages' is Not Just A Sexual Love-Triangle Story

I am not sure I have spoken about this feeling before. The one where you know you're going to love a film from just a frame, or a poster. Passages is one of those films for me. Maybe, someday, I'll talk more about the rest of them.

Passages is the 8th feature film of Ira Sachs. It premiered on Sundance Film Festival and I was lucky enough to screen this pretty soon afterwards, but this is a secret for some other time. 

The story is centered around three people. Tomas (Franz Rogowski) is a German filmmaker based in Paris, and has just completed his latest film. Actually, at the opening sequence of the film we see Tomas in action, giving directions to the cast & the crew on set. This is one of the most explanatory first scenes in a movie I've seen that gets you right in the mood for Tomas and his special character full of idiosyncrasies. The world of the film is revolved around Tomas, and his unstable character that affects everyone around him.

At the wrap up party of his movie, Tomas meets Agathe (Adèle Exarchopoulos), a young primary school teacher that she wants to dance with him, after Tomas telling her that his husband, Martin (Ben Whishaw), an English printer, doesn't want to. 

Things get tense between Tomas and Agathe, who end up having sex at Agathe's home. Tomas, being immediate and impulsive, goes back to his house and confesses to Martin that he had sex with a woman, and long-gone feelings have come up. Sooner or later, Tomas and Martin relationship will be confronted with Tomas' ups and downs regarding himself and his feelings about Martin & Agathe as they are all mixed up. 

If you haven't watched the movie yet, you'll propably heard/read that it's one of the most sexual movies of the year, and yes. Ira Sachs' chose to display a couple of sex scenes in the movie, both between Tomas and Agathe and Tomas and Martin, however they are all for a reason. Tomas' character gets confronted with his sexuality more than his actual feelings for his husband.

When he meets Agathe, his first impulse towards her is mainly sexual and then emotional, which is not the case in his marriage at this time. As things between Tomas and Agathe get tough, Agathe seems to get frustrating with Tomas' behavior and the same goes with Martin. The conflict here is that Martin knows Tomas very well, and he is trying to escape him and his behavior while Agathe is trying to explain Tomas' ups and downs.

What seems to be a sexual love-triangle story is actually a story of a man falling in love with a woman while being in a marriage with a man. Everything revolves around Tomas, and his more than obvious toxic behavior towards Agathe, Martin and himself. In his desperate need to find where he belongs, he messes up their feelings and he ends up feeling lonelier than ever.

In this slice-of-life Ira Sachs' film, characters and their actions between one another is the key pillar stylized with excellent costumes that highlight all three of them. It's aesthetically pleasing from the first to the very last scene, it's emotionally engaging, and you can't help but questioning your own struggles and how these affect people around you. In reality, Passages is a film about love, complexity and intimacy, according to Ira Sachs, and I couldn't agree more.


Photo Credits: Passages (2023) dir. Ira Sachs
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