In her feature film debut as a director Lavinia Currier has fashioned an exotic movie that stops you in your tracks and transports you to a strange and compelling alternate world somewhere between dream and reality. The drama is an adaptation of a novella by Honore De Balzac.
Augustin Robert (Ben Daniels) is a young French officer in Napoleon's army. He is escorting Jean-Michel Venture (Michel Piccoli), an artist-scholar, in Egypt to record that country's historical monuments and temples. After they are cut off from their regiment and then lose their way in a desert sandstorm, the artist commits suicide. Augustin eventually finds shelter in a deep canyon. In what turns out to be the ruins of an ancient city, the soldier enters the magical and dangerous world of a wild leopard. He calls her Simoom, the Bedouin name for the Sahara's hot, poison wind.
Passion in the Desert is the year's most incredibly beautiful film, brimming with breathtaking scenes of danger, wonder, and communion between man and beast. Ben Daniels gives a tour de force performance, and Lavinia Currier bequeaths to us a deep reverence for the mystery and otherness of animals.