“Passion passion lips are burning. Skin to skin my body’s yearning for love” sings Sarah to her new -boyfriend Michael.
She’s taken him all around late-night NYC while belting that she wants to be young and have fun forever. Their passion for each other is palpable, and the vibrant energy given to the scene by its shifting city settings—from a small dive bar in which they are the only two dancing to a secluded alleyway- makes their love shine. Things may not always stay this way, but, at least for this night, they are young, in love and free.
Ode To Passion (Produced, written original songs written and directed by Jack Danini) follows young lovers Michael (Giuseppe Bausilio) and Sarah (Julia Nightingale) as their relationship blossoms and soars before hitting some very low moments over the course of a year. Michael, a successful writer, wears his heart on his sleeve as he pursues Sarah, a struggling actor, who has a troubled past. As they grow closer, and very quickly profess their love for each other, in almost Romeo and Juliet fashion, Michael realizes that Sarah may have some addiction issues, and his love may not be enough to save her.
The script combines a variety of song styles—from rock ballads to pop hits—juxtaposed by verse spoken throughout scenes of dialogue. In this writer’s opinion, the film succeeds in conveying the most genuine emotion during the musical numbers. The songs allow the cast to shine as they work through issues of rejection, career disappointment, and risks-taking. The verse, conversely, has a classical feel. You too may feel that these verses clash with the modern songs and, ultimately, take one out of the emotional journey.
Ode to Passion moves the audience through the rushed and vibrant streets of New York. The city, as it frequently does, becomes a character itself-giving energy and life to the film. The cinematography (Darren Joe) feels fresh and alive. In this writer’s view, this helps bring all the scenes to life by showing us the many sides of the city—from the colorful, fun night life to the dingy subway. The sweeping motions of the camera also serve to heighten our response. We are as dizzy, caught up and intoxicated by Sarah and Michael’s new love as they are. We also are dragged to the lowest of lows in scenes with stark lighting contrasts as their relationship suffers its many downs.
Nightingale’s performance shines as the struggling Sarah trying her best to change for a relationship. She eventually reaches a point in which she has to make the best decision for herself and not what’s best for Michael. At that point she delivers a short but powerful monologue about losing herself within this relationship. Then, the film focuses primarily on Michael and his best friend John (Jeff Smith) as they navigate their careers and futures in this slow paced film. This was unfortunate, in this writer’s opinion, as we are left wanting more out of Sarah’s story. We want to know not only her history, but also her current struggles with addiction, as well as what’s her future holds.
Produced, written and directed by: Jack Danini
Cinematographer: Darren Joe
Original Songs by: Jack Danini
Score & Music Production: Yoo Soo Kim
Executive Producers: Jitka Danini; Juan Jose Ureña; Joemma L. Ureña
Images courtesy of ODE TO PASSION
About the Author
Taryn Smith, Chicago Communities Associate Editor, graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago's BFA Performance program in 2011. After graduating, she co-founded Realize Theatre Group and served as Executive Director for the company. She has filled numerous roles while with RTG both on and off stage including making her playwriting debut with her play America, Inc . She has worked as a stage manage, designer, director, and actor. Outside of the theatre world, Taryn is a licensed massage therapist.
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