Passione is at once a documentary and a musical. What is usual for a documentary of this kind, a documentary about a musician or a type of music (here, the music of Naples), is to show interviews and footage of performances from the near or deep past. Passione, directed by the actor John Turturro (Barton Fink, Do the Right Thing, the Transformers series), adds an element to the usual: sheer leaps into the fantastic realm of the musical. What's more, it works. Indeed, these sections—people breaking into song on a beach, on a city street, in a bed with a lover—are the best parts of the film. The interviews are functional; the musical numbers are fun.
Passione not only has great performances from great singers—my favorite of which is the Tunisian M'Barka Ben Taleb—it also has a good eye for women with superb curves. One scene has no singing but a furious beat and seven or so Neapolitan women dancing in the plaza and the balconies of a three-story building. Their hot bodies burn like the sun—the purist giver. This movie is perfect for a date. It will generate the necessary erotic energy. Northwest Film Forum, Fri–Tues at 7, 9 pm.