10 Best Movies You Never Saw In 2023

For those whose impression of French cinema is that it’s all some Parisian blend of sexy and sad, the deliciously fraught and wonderfully queer romantic drama “Passages,” full of knowing glances and long shots of people riding bikes through the streets of Paris, may not change their mind.

Directed by Ira Sachs on a script by Sachs and Mauricio Zacharias, “Passages” follows Tomas (Franz Rogowski) and Martin (Ben Whishaw), a film director and a printmaker, respectively, whose floundering marriage goes from dull to tense when Tomas begins an affair with a young woman named Agathe (Adèle Exarchopoulos). Through various standoffs and sexual encounters, the film explores the messy web that forms between these three, the kind of narcissism that can erupt out of creative spaces, and the ways that queerness changes — and doesn’t change — the way people move through intimate relationships.

Curious parallels to Sachs’ personal life aside, “Passages” doesn’t stray too far from the genre of sad romance that it inhabits, but the performances are so quietly visceral and Josée Deshaies shoots it all so beautifully that viewers won’t even notice. Though it achieved critical acclaim, its wide release was muzzled by an NC-17 rating from the MPA, by which Sachs is disappointed. “It’s really about a form of cultural censorship that is quite dangerous, particularly in a culture [that] is already battling, in such extreme ways, the possibility of LGBT imagery to exist,” he told the Los Angeles Times. Fortunately, this fantastic drama can still be watched on Mubi.

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