September 25, 2011

Possession (2002)


Possession is a film adaptation of a book that is likely superior in every way. The plot focuses on two English literature historians, Roland Michell (Eckhart) and Maud Bailey (Paltrow), who both research Victorian-era poets: Michell knows Randolph Henry Ash (Northam) and Bailey knows Christabel LaMotte (Ehle). As the two uncover a heretofore secret, hidden love affair from the past, they discover the emergence of their own love for each other. Yes, the storyline sounds more than a little cheesy, but it reminded me--in a good way--of Wong Kar-Wai's In the Mood for Love. (Unfortunately, it never even came close to being as good as that movie.) All the storytelling elements were there to make this a truly compelling story, but the rest of the filmmaking was not. The acting oscillated between flat and harsh. The written dialogue was unconvincing and stilted. Most of the shots were plain Jane boring. A few times LaBute surprised me with some clever juxtaposition of scenes or imagery, but I left the movie unimpressed. (It doesn't help that it ends on a ridiculously laughable action/chase/fight scene.) Trust me when I say that Possession is a movie not worth seeing. If the plot sounds interesting, I would suggest you try reading the book instead.

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