PASSIONADA centers around a beautiful widow, Celia Amonte (Sofia Milos), who is trying to raise her rebellious teenage daughter, Vicky (Emmy Rossum). Celia is deceptively seduced by Charlie Beck (Jason Isaacs), a mysterious stranger with a secret past. While Celia initially gives Charlie the cold shoulder, his persistence, charm and deceptive ways eventually win her over.
Celia lives with her daughter Vicky and mother-in-law Angelica (Lupe Ontiveros) in the Portuguese community of New Bedford, Massachusetts. Celia lost her husband seven years earlier due to a boating accident and is still grieving. She is a cabaret singer at a local restaurant where she catches the eye of vacationing Charlie. The haunting Fado music, along with Celia’s stunning looks, entices Charlie. Charlie approaches her but fails miserably, as Celia still considers herself married.
Charlie “lucks out” when he inadvertently meets Celia’s daughter, Vicky, at a local casino. Vicky is an eager novice at gambling. She perceives that Charlie is “card counting.” Vicky has tried to count cards, but has been caught and thrown out of most of the major gambling cities around the world. She begs Charlie to teach her how to count without getting caught cheating, but he refuses. However, when he tries to track down Celia at her home he meets Vicky again. When Celia brushes Charlie’s advances off again, Vicky offers to help Charlie get a date with her mom in exchange for lessons in card counting. Charlie obliges and learns some valuable information about Celia that he uses to penetrate her defenses.
As can be expected, Celia falls for Charlie under the guise that he is a wealthy businessman who has moved to New Bedford to open a fish refinery. Eventually, Charlie’s game gets exposed, but not before Celia has already “opened her arms and her bed” to him. Despite the betrayal that Celia has endured, after much consideration, she allows Charlie back into her life. The ending even proposes that Charlie has cleaned up his act to the degree that he is now married to Celia and helps a local casino catch cheats like him.
PASSIONADA’s filmmakers have attempted to make a culturally-vibrant, romantic comedy by weaving a celebration of the Portuguese musical and culinary heritage into the story. However, the movie goes downhill the more you learn about Celia and Charlie. Celia is a passionate, beautiful woman who deserves an honest, good man to help her move on with her life. Charlie is not that man. He is a conniving, deceptive liar — though he does it all in the name of “love.” Unless someone is truly stuck in a romantic cloud of disillusionment, they would see clearly that Celia would be making a horrible decision in settling for a man whose character is so unattractive and unbecoming. Even her rebellious daughter tells Charlie plainly, “My mom doesn’t deserve what she’s got.”
PASSIONADA falls flat due mainly to script flaws, poor dialogue and somewhat shoddy directing. It seems as if the filmmakers were off to a good start, got lazy halfway through and just threw together a conventional, un-empathetic ending.
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SUMMARY: In PASSIONADA, a beautiful Portuguese widow, with the help of her rebellious teenage daughter, is deceptively seduced by a mysterious stranger with a secret past. What was meant to be an endearing, culturally-vibrant, romantic comedy falls flat due mainly to script flaws, poor dialogue and somewhat shoddy directing.
(RoRo, C, L, V, SS, N, AA, D, MMM) Strong Romantic worldview where characters make decisions based on emotions, including immoral relationships and disobedience to authorities, as well as Christian elements as family is devoutly Catholic they attend mass yet their faith appears neither to affect their daily lives, nor their decisions; 9 obscenities; brief violence when angry woman slaps man across his face; several instances of passionate kissing between married and unmarried couples, instances of very sensual kissing and implied sex as couple is shown in bed together; upper male nudity as man lies in bed, and woman with very low-cut top exposing cleavage; family drinks wine during meals and woman brings portable martini maker to a dinner; man talks about smoking weed; and, prevalent lying throughout the movie including teenage daughter who lies often to her mother and others, man is a professional gambler who teaches teenager how to cheat at cards, daughter is very disrespectful towards her mother, mom calls her daughter a “tramp”, and daughter bribes man to teach her card counting so she can help him get date with her mother.