A cat-and-mouse chase within a noir setting at first glance and a character exploration revolting around morality in action, Yuval Adler’s ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ is an eclectic psychological thriller film. Following a father of one with another kid steadily on the way, the story revolves around David Chamberlain, who finds himself in a hostage situation after a run-in with a manic stranger. The strange Passenger, distinguished in his scarlet outfit and hair, holds David at gunpoint and forces him to drive around the outskirts of Las Vegas.
The film is essentially a conversation between two characters and explores the relationship between an individual’s past and how it affects their future. As a suspenseful thriller, the film is ripe with mystery and intrigue, highlighted by its vivid neon cinematography. Although ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ leans into its bizarre elements, the story remains grounded in reality. Due to the same, viewers must wonder if the film has any basis in real-life. Let’s find out!
Is Sympathy For The Devil a True Story?
No, ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ is not based on a true story. Helmed by director Yuval Adler with a screenplay by Luke Paradise, the film presents a fictional story with no firm basis in reality. Nevertheless, the film’s captivating base premise, paired with the human exploration of emotions, makes for a compelling story. Director Adler first came across this project years ago, shortly after working on his 2013 well-received feature-film directorial debut, ‘Bethlehem.’ However, at the time, the filmmaker failed to get the film from the producers since the genre wasn’t deemed to be in his ballpark. Over the years, Adler kept in touch with the producers and periodically checked on the project.
Eventually, in 2021, Adler discovered that the producers had lost the rights to the film and decided to contact the writer directly and buy the script from him. Even though it was a significant undertaking, Adler was passionate about the film and wanted to see it to fruition. In an interview with ScreenRant, Adler discussed his fascination with the film saying, “It was the conflict, this two-hander, cat-and-mouse game, confined thriller. But, especially, I liked the dark sense of humor that was already in the script, [you know what I mean]?”
As such, the film’s approach to humor, comical without underplaying the darkness of the plot, informs much of the story’s foundation. Nicolas Cage plays a crucial role in embodying that humor as the centric mysterious Passenger. Although his character possesses an outlandish, almost otherworldly deposition, the underlying hurricane of authentic emotions within The Passenger provides a distinguished quality to the film. Initially, Cage was attracted to the project due to its connection to the song of the same name by The Rolling Stones. Consequently, the actor drew some inspiration for his character from the band’s frontman Mick Jagger and his character’s red hair moment from the 1970 film ‘Performance.’
Likewise, Cage also researched demonology for his role and took some references from a demon called Asmodeus, whom the actor found to be closely associated with the color red. This spontaneous decision also significantly affects the film’s overall visually psychedelic theme and relationship to the color red. Although neither demonic nor supernatural, Cage’s character in the film certainly comes with a devilish air that enhances his impact as a crazed character. The same also drew Cage to the film since he liked the idea of playing a “bizarre and operatic” enigma of a character.
The same enigma behind Cage’s character holds the film together and provides an entertaining dynamic against Joel Kinnaman’s broody and guarded character. The central relationship between these two characters certainly infuses the plot with some moments of relatability. Still, regardless of the sense of realism it possesses, the story of ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ is an entirely fictitious one with no roots in real life.