Add the letter "N" to Passionada gives Passion, nada, which is a succinct description of this film. This is one of those movies that appears out of nowhere and disappears just as quickly, and few people will ever see or hear of it. It serves as resume padding for some actors (Jason Isaacs, Lupe Ontiveros, and Emmy Rossum) and has some aging stars that don't really do anything anymore (Seymour Cassel, Theresa Russell). Passionada is one of those romance/romantic comedies where everything is so blatantly obvious that watching the film is pointless, because there is not one point where an original plot element comes into being. It also mines the familiar culture gap romance cliches, this time between a white man and a Portuguese woman.

Passionada is an attempt by Isaacs (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Windtalkers) to turn himself into a romantic leading man. With his chiseled looks and piercing blue eyes, Isaacs certainly fits the part, but his most memorable roles have been as villains (especially in The Patriot) or in action films. As a romantic leading man in Passionada, he is saddled with some awful hair and a complementary script, so while he does adequately in the role, the movie itself brings him down. Isaacs is Charles Beck, a card counter who finds himself in the small fishing community of New Bedford. There, he meets Vicky (Rossum, Songcatcher, An American Rhapsody), a young woman who wants to learn to count cards. He also hears Celia Amonte (Sofia Milos, The Ladies Man, Family Jewels), a beautiful fado singer, and instantly falls in love. The problem is that she cares little for him, and he is nothing but a washed up gambler.

Here is where Jim and Steve Jeramok's script begins to go awry. As a general movie rule, two people can never all in love normally. Charlie pretends he is a rich investor looking to open a plant. He does everything he can to woo Celia; drive a fancy car, dress in fancy clothes, own a yacht, and pretends to love fish. Celia grew up in the Azores, and loves the sea. However, her husband went missing seven years ago, and she has never been on the ocean since. Celia has not dated since that time, yet it is inevitable that she will begin to fall for him, just as it is inevitable that Charlie's lies will come to light.

The two have little chemistry, mainly because director Dan Ireland (The Velocity of Gary, The Whole Wide World) choreographs everything without an original thought. Isaac's character is such a blatant schmuck that it is not fun watching him. Especially when there are other, underutilized characters. Lupe Ontiveros (Real Women Have Curves, Storytelling) has what feels like a few minutes as Celia's mother-in-law. probably has the most interesting character, yet falls to the wayside. She is beginning to rebel against her sometimes overbearing mother, and agrees to try to set up Charlie with Celia if he agrees to teach her his tricks.

Mongoose Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 48 minutes, English and Portugese with English subtitles, Rated PG-13 for some sensuality and a conversation about drugs.

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