Possession

"Bad"

Possession Review


A.S. Byatt's Booker Award-winning novel Possession might have provided some literary delight, following two academics who track the love letters of a Victorian poet and his free-spirited mistress. That doesn't translate well to cinema, though. Neil LaBute's film adaptation boils down to a buttoned-down Gwyneth Paltrow (sporting her Academy Award winning faux-Brit accent from Shakespeare in Love) and square-jawed Aaron Eckhart running from one Masterpiece Theater location to the next (the library, the moors, the waterfall, the gothic archway, the castle wall, and the moonlit graveyard) all the while reading aloud from the correspondence of dead Englishmen.

While it might make a charming book-on-tape for the Oprah crowd, this "love loves to love love" hokum masquerades as a real movie. The present day academics exist in counterpoint to the period movie flashbacks (basically Jeremy Northam donning his suit again and looking forlorn, intercut with shots of his beautiful mistress Jennifer Ehle looking voluptuous and forlorn). And they talk, talk, talk about subtext within the letters; but they're actually talking about each other. Yes, it's When Harry Met Sally in the Library. So help me God, Eckhart's emotional revelation is when he asks Paltrow, "Is there an Us in You and Me?" (If I were Paltrow, I'd say, "I'll call you.")

LaBute attempts to create a parallel between the heightened romanticism of days gone by with the postmodern, chilly hustle and bustle of modern life. He's got a penchant for aloof yuppie scum, as evidenced in Your Friends and Neighbors and In the Company of Men, and Possession plays best as another example of, "People are real bastards nowadays, aren't they?" Eckhart's character doesn't want to get tied down in (cough, cough) relationships, living happily as a bachelor and lone ranger. Paltrow, on the other hand, expresses her character through a tightly wound hair-bun and shrill, me-so-bitchy line readings. It's hardly worth noting the Northam-Ehle period scenes, since they're mostly done in the form of pretty montages. They might as well exist inside a snow globe Eckhart and Paltrow are marveling over.

So why must we suffer through this kind of crap? I'd like to blame Miramax for running their period film adaptations into the ground with one lofty literary fiasco after another. As with anything else, some filmmakers and greedy producers noted the success of Howard's End and started the vicious cash cow cycle again. Now that they've plundered their E.M. Forster and D.H. Lawrence, they're moving on to modern writers like A.S. Byatt who dance to the same repressed Victorian groove. Possession is merely the latest, and most obviously packaged, of the lot. It's a Miramax film presented by a non-Miramax distribution company (Focus), which only says to me, "Good God, it's spreading." Studio player Gwyneth Paltrow takes the lead role, Neil LaBute continues his ascendance up the indie film chain, and Focus sticks with the tried and true: If people loved the book, surely they'll love the movie! Let's hope audiences show a little discriminating taste here.

The Victorians preferred the Macintosh.



Possession

Facts and Figures

Run time: 102 mins

In Theaters: Friday 30th August 2002

Box Office USA: $10.1M

Distributed by: USA Films

Production compaines: Gaumont, Oliane Productions, Marianne Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 65%
Fresh: 100 Rotten: 55

IMDB: 6.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Anna / Helen, as Mark, as Margit Gluckmeister, Heinz Bennent as Heinrich, Johanna Hofer as Heinrich's Mutter, as Detektiv, Shaun Lawton as Zimmermann, Michael Hogben as Bob, Maximilian Rüthlein as Mann mit rosa Socken (als Maximilian Ruethlein), Leslie Malton as Sara, woman with club foot

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

An unusually realistic teen movie, this drama gets deep under the skin of its characters,...

Bleed for This Movie Review

Bleed for This Movie Review

This is such a ripping true story that it can't help but grab hold of...

Moana Movie Review

Moana Movie Review

In a clear echo of Frozen, this Disney animated adventure centres on a fiercely independent...

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

The 2003 comedy Bad Santa is a holiday classic that skilfully mixes gross-out humour with...

Allied Movie Review

Allied Movie Review

There's a terrific script at the heart of this World War II thriller, with a...

A United Kingdom Movie Review

A United Kingdom Movie Review

Based on a powerful true story from the late 1940s, this drama is packed with...

Indignation Movie Review

Indignation Movie Review

Philip Roth's layered novels are a challenge for filmmakers (see also 2003's The Human Stain...

Advertisement
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

It's been five years since the last Harry Potter movie, and J.K. Rowling has been...

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Yet another bonkers thriller starring Nicolas Cage, this trashy crime comedy comes from director Paul...

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

"Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall" is a DVD...

Arrival Movie Review

Arrival Movie Review

This sci-fi drama has an enjoyably brain-bending plot that leaves the audience almost stunned with...

Elle Movie Review

Elle Movie Review

There's a boldly comical tone to this outrageous thriller that can't help but unnerve audiences...

100 Streets Movie Review

100 Streets Movie Review

A multi-strand drama set in London, this film is very nicely shot and acted, but...

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

It's been seven years since designer Tom Ford made a splash with his award-winning writing-directing...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.