Interweaving two hindrance-hurdling love stories that share a literary connection but take place more than a century apart, director Neil LaBute has taken another large and confident step into an unexpected genre with gratifying results.
"Possession," which is lovingly but sometimes loosely adapted from A.S. Byatt's novel of the same name, follows the germinating romance between two relationship-reluctant academics as they in turn follow a trail of evidence revealing a passionate secret affair between two Victorian poets.
A wild departure from LaBute's previous films -- the caustic, even cruel social satires "In the Company of Men" and "Your Friends and Neighbors," and the upbeat black comedy "Nurse Betty" -- this effort has the melodic trappings of a Merchant-Ivory romance. But it's also a perceptive musing on what has and hasn't changed between the two time periods in the emotional, practical and sometimes prohibitive logistics of love.
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