The Passenger (1975)

“I used to be someone else, but I traded him in.” In this classic study of modern alienation (Italian title: Professione: reporter) from director Michelangelo Antonioni, Jack Nicholson portrays “David Locke,” a TV documentarian staying at a hotel in Africa who discovers a dead guest and, for unknown reasons, assumes his identity. He soon discovers that his alter-ego was a gun runner, keeps the appointments he finds in the dead man’s black book and hooks up with an architecture student (Maria Schneider from Last Tango in Paris). The last scene contains an excruciatingly long, seven-minute pan around a room through a window. If you’re easily bored and don’t like movies that unfold very slowly and deliberately with little plot development – stay the hell away! In an 1975 interview with Roger Ebert, Schneider remarked, “It’s an interesting thing about [The Passenger]. It did better in America than it did in Europe. And Antonioni is supposed to be a star in Europe. I’m glad the Americans could watch something slower and more thoughtful for a change, instead of all the violence and crime.”

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