With the Sexy ‘Passages,’ Ira Sachs Reminds Why He’s an Essential Indie Voice

With the Sexy ‘Passages,’ Ira Sachs Reminds Why He’s an Essential Indie Voice

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on whatsapp
Share on telegram
Share on tumblr
Share on pinterest
Share on reddit

Share this with your friends

With the Sexy ‘Passages,’ Ira Sachs Reminds Why He’s an Essential Indie Voice
#Sexy #Passages #Ira #Sachs #Reminds #Hes #Essential #Indie #Voice,


Even as the world of American independent film has contracted and consolidated, as the marketplace’s demand for originality has declined, Ira Sachs has carried on. He has made what he calls “personal cinema,” of a very personal (and very consistent) quality, for decades now, seemingly without interruption. The journey hasn’t actually been so smooth, of course—it’s required initiative, flexibility, a certain drive. His latest film, Passages—already an arthouse success out of its opening weekend, and a critical darling—reflects that nimbleness. It showcases a filmmaker unwilling to compromise creatively, if keenly aware of the forces around him needed to make it happen.

A heated and darkly funny love triangle, the Paris-set Passages concerns what happens when Tomas (Franz Rogowski) briefly abandons his longtime partner Martin (Ben Whishaw) to pursue an affair with a woman, Agathe (Adèle Exarchopoulos). Tomas navigates this new attraction with a selfishness that plays out as simultaneously mortifying, heartbreaking, and hilarious, a tough combination sold by Rogowski’s fearless performance. It’s very much in the Sachs oeuvre too—another biting relationship study from the mind behind such indie gems as Love Is Strange and Little Men.

How does he keep doing it—both creatively and logistically? It’s no secret that films of Sachs’s scope have become more difficult to fund and get off the ground, especially one like Passages, whose central queer sex scene ostensibly offended the MPAA enough to slap it with an NC-17 rating. (Distributor Mubi chose to release the film unrated.) “I wouldn’t say I’m at the end of my American career. I am American. I’m from Memphis, Tennessee. I’m born and bred here, so I have stories to tell here,” Sachs says on this week’s Little Gold Men (listen above). “Part of what I’m doing with this film is playing and being open to the impact of, particularly, French cinema on me as an artist, and allowing myself a kind of freedom of bringing that into the film.”

But making the movie outside the U.S. does reflect certain structural industry changes that Sachs has proven crafty enough to respond to. “I think the [2008] recession changed everything in American cinema and in particular in American independent cinema,” he says. Around that time, he had an all-star cast assembled for a film to be titled The Goodbye People, including Michael Shannon, Patricia Clarkson, Kirsten Dunst, and the late Anton Yelchin. “I couldn’t raise $1 over a multiple-year period and I really was, like, ‘Oh, this is not working. Something is not working,’” Sachs says. “From then, I looked at my job differently. I realized I was going to be the instigator, and in a way, I became my own producer. I became the person who raised money, and I raised it out of that system.”

This led to one of the more noted decades for a queer filmmaker in the 2010s, beginning with the steamy relationship study Keep the Lights On. From 2013–2017, Sachs received an impressive six Independent Spirit Award nominations, including two for best feature. But even as his profile grew, he still struggled to pull financing together. “When I finished Love Is Strange, which was a success in the independent marketplace and was well reviewed, I wrote Little Men thinking, ‘Okay, I’m coming off of something,’” Sachs says. “And no one would make the film. Not one company. Again, I had to raise the money for the film independently.”

Passages is Sachs’s second consecutive movie made in Europe, following 2019’s Isabelle Huppert vehicle Frankie, which brought the director less enthusiastic reviews than usual. The movie marked his Cannes debut. “I feel like in France it was received with a lot of love,” he says. “In the US, it’s an unusual film. It’s a film out of place with the concerns of American cinema, but I’m okay with that. That seems like a good thing.” Passages, with its frank approach to sexuality and richly messy depiction of human behavior, would seem an even better fit for the Croisette than the low-key Frankie, but instead, Sachs brought it back to Sundance, the place where his 2005 breakout Forty Shades of Blue won the Grand Jury Prize and where those 2010s hits all premiered to wide acclaim. Sachs seems pleased with the decision.

“Cannes is a festival that chose this year to open with a Johnny Depp movie—we’re talking about a film festival where the people in charge have a certain politic that’s really important to them,” Sachs says. “I can’t say whether Johnny Depp should or should not make movies, but when you’re deciding what that [opening film] is, you’re deciding which films you want to promote and which conversations you want to engage in…. On the other hand, Sundance is a festival that has always privileged voices that are marginalized in other festivals—that are put into the back of other festivals. Sundance says, ‘These are actually the films that mean the most to us.’” 

There’s that independent spirit, shining through again. It’s served Sachs quite well.


thank youf or watch : With the Sexy ‘Passages,’ Ira Sachs Reminds Why He’s an Essential Indie Voice

[slide-anything id="851"]


With the Sexy ‘Passages,’ Ira Sachs Reminds Why He’s an Essential Indie Voice

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on whatsapp
Share on telegram
Share on tumblr
Share on pinterest
Share on reddit

Share this with your friends