Possession

2002

Drama / Mystery / Romance

4
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 64%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled 58%
IMDb Rating 6.3 10 12891

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Synopsis


Uploaded By: FREEMAN
November 27, 2020 at 03:27 AM

Director

Cast

Lena Headey as Blanche Glover
Jennifer Ehle as Christabel LaMotte
Gwyneth Paltrow as Maud Bailey
Toby Stephens as Fergus Wolfe
720p.WEB 1080p.WEB
937.88 MB
1280*544
English 2.0
PG-13
23.976 fps
1 hr 42 min
P/S 6 / 10
1.88 GB
1920*816
English 5.1
PG-13
23.976 fps
1 hr 42 min
P/S 2 / 7

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by frodolives 6 / 10

pretty to look at, but have the filmmakers understood the book?

This film offers some gorgeous visuals and some great performances - notably those by Jeremy Northam and Jennifer Ehle (a bit of a casting joke since those two are famous for playing Jane Austen's Mr. Knightley and Elisabeth Bennet, respectively) - but as a literary adaptation, the movie falls short on too many points. Sadly, the filmmakers have missed out on most of the central themes of the novel, without substituting a sufficiently interesting interpretation of their own.

A.S. Byatt's novel examines the shifting relationships between men and women a century and a half apart - to that end, the characters in the two storylines (the Victorian and the contemporary) mirror each other deliberately. For some unfathomable reason, the screenwriters have decided to cut out completely two crucial characters from the modern-time storyline - Val, Roland's girlfriend, and the feminist (and Lesbian) researcher friend of Maud's, whose name I forget - their equivalents in the Victorian period are Ash's wife, and Christabel's lover Blanche.

One of the main interests of the original story lies in the ways in which the relationships between those characters have changed because of the changes in society that the 20th century has brought - particularly the way the main characters relate to each other (significantly, Maud is the stronger and more successful person in the modern-time relationship) - but also with respect to all the other characters involved (Roland and Val's relationship, which is based almost exclusively on sex, as contrasted with Ash's and his wife's relationship, which is entirely sex-less - the point here being that in a truly fulfilled relationship, these two things must be in balance).

Also, the characters, particularly that of Roland, are bent and twisted beyond recognition - I have nothing against Aaron Eckhard or his performance, but he simply plays a completely different character from the Roland Mitchell of the novel - who is *not* brash (nor is he celibate), but has a certain mousy-ness about him that is quite essential to the plot. Also, he is British for a reason, so making him into an American adds a completely wrong dimension to his and Maud's differences. Judging from the director's commentary, the main reason for casting Eckhard was that he's a buddie of director Neil La Bute's - it's a sad thing that the filmmakers decided to twist the character and plot to accomodate the actor, rather than making a more informed casting choice, as I am sure there are plenty of suitable British actors out there that would have fitted the part admirably.

Gwyneth Paltrow offers a convincing enough performance, and is well-cast as Maud Bailey - a woman whose physical attractiveness stands in the way of her being taken seriously as the bright academic she is. But she is not being given enough scope to be the reserved intellectual she is supposed to be, because her relationship with Roland developes far too quickly, and with not enough plausibility (particularly given a certain lack of chemistry between the two actors) - thereby missing another of the main themes (and contrasts) in the novel.

Having said that, the film is worth watching for its final five minutes alone - and incidentally, this is the one scene that catches most accurately the spirit, and the point, of the original novel.

Reviewed by espineli 9 / 10

A breathtaking adaptation except for one thing...

I went to watch the movie with a little trepidation...after all, I've had images of these characters in my head for years...but I also went with much excitement, as I have been waiting for this movie to come for some time now.

First of all, Neil LaBute captured the snobbery of the whole academic scene very well, albeit very briefly. However, the British characters make so much comment about the fact that he's an American, that it borders on the ridiculous. Most of the actual British people I've met actually like Americans, and although they make the occasional joke about them, they don't carry on like the academicians in the movie. The point I am making is that the other characters seem to emphasize Roland's brashness so much that Roland doesn't even have a chance to show what he's truly made of, why he's there working with Professor Blackadder, over any dozens of other graduate students (British or not) who could have had his place.

Much has been said about making the character of Roland an American. Actually, I think that the choice of bringing an American into the academic mix not only changes this from something more suited to "Masterpiece Theatre" TV to something worthy of the big screen. Roland is the outsider in the book, a lower-class Brit, but he is also someone who harbors poetic aspirations and more passion for his chosen subject (Ash) than any of his colleagues. The fact that he is an American in the movie helps to emphasize his outsider identity. But the audience is never truly shown this at all in the movie.

This is the true misstep of the movie (and I have a feeling that perhaps some of it is on the cutting room floor): Roland's character is so underdeveloped in the movie that anyone coming to the movie without having read the book cannot help but feel he is a "fish-out-of-water." Sure, they have scenes of Roland reading a book of Ash poetry and a brief flash of Roland writing poetry in a notebook. But the latter scene seemed to exist only for Gwyneth Paltrow's character (Maud Bailey) to have another opportunity to make fun of Roland, and not to help reveal any sort of depth to his character.

As a fan of the book, I did enjoy the movie after all. The Victorian scenes were especially beautiful and I loved the seamless cutting between past and present in the same spaces, the same rooms. Since my only misgiving is that it was too short, I feel that LaBute was successful in his adaptation...I guess I will have to look to the DVD to see if he had intended to flesh out Roland's character more. Unfortunately, Roland is never even given a chance to show what he's made of, except for the fact that he steals a letter from a book -- the catalyst of both the movie and the book. His "American-ness" in this case -- his boldness and his guile -- is a good thing. It's just too bad that we don't see more of why he likes Ash so much and what really motivates him to take up the literary chase with Maud...and this is why I would recommend to anyone who's enjoyed the movie that they should read the book...it will amaze you how much LaBute managed to keep in, and it will astound you to become more acquainted with the quadrangle of characters and their individual passions and motivations.

Reviewed by jhclues 10 / 10

A Totally New Perspective from Neil LaBute

A rose by any other name is still a rose; and so it is with love. And whether or not history reflects any of the great love stories of the past accordingly and/or contextually correct, it does not alter the fact of it. The rose of the romance four generations later, for example, may become known as the lily; neither does that alter the fact of what was, nor of what is, all of these decades later, indelibly etched upon the mind's eye of eternity. `Possession,' directed by Neil LaBute, is just such a story, within a story; one the actual passion of which may have been inadvertently diminished, however, through the misinterpretation of the chroniclers who years before set it all down in annals made figuratively of stone, and which, once set, forever after endured. A romantic film of an even more romantic notion, it's a twofold tale of love, the stories of which, though separated by generations, are in the end, in nature one and the same. Because, as this film so richly reveals, love indeed lives eternal, and is borne on the very same flame throughout the ages.

Roland Michell (Aaron Eckhart), an American, is in London on a fellowship researching the life and work of 19th Century poet Randolph Henry Ash (Jeremy Northam), poet laureate to Queen Victoria. History recognizes Ash as a dedicated and faithful husband, and his love poems-- purportedly written to or about his wife-- are considered to be among his most noteworthy accomplishments. In the course of his studies, however, Michell happens across some passionate letters written by Ash to a woman; a woman who is, without question, not his wife. And all evidence points to poetess Christabel LaMotte (Jennifer Ehle) as being the receiver of the letters-- and of Ash's affections.

Galvanized by the thought that he may have discovered something that would change history, he seeks out Dr. Maud Bailey (Gwyneth Paltrow), currently doing research of her own on LaMotte, in hopes that she will assist him in his quest to uncover the truth about Ash. Initially skeptical, Bailey acquiesces, and together they set out across England, following what appears to be the trail of Ash and LaMotte's movements during what Michell and Bailey calculate to have been the period of the romantic interlude between the poets. And what follows is a journey of discovery for Michell and Bailey; about the tenets of truth, history, and most importantly, about love.

LaBute, Laura Jones and David Henry Hwang wrote the screenplay for this film, adapted from the novel by A.S. Byatt. And for LaBute, known for such films as `Your Friends and Neighbors,' `Nurse Betty' and the scathing `In the Company of Men,' it's an artistic turn of 180 degrees. Absent are the misogynists and narcissists who typically populate his landscapes, replaced by characters the audience can warm to, if not embrace entirely. First and foremost, this is an enthralling love story, made all the more so by LaBute's sensitive and sensible presentation. Visually, it is stunning, as well; Jean-Yves Escoffier's masterful cinematography fully captures the exquisite beauty of the setting, which complements the romance and makes for an entirely transporting experience.

What makes this film altogether satisfying, however, is that LaBute (via Byatt) manages to transcend the dominant romantic aspects of it, interjecting a very subtle consideration of established social precepts and principles, as well. There is a decided sense of Ibsen about it, in attitude, outlook and especially in the suggestion of the `roles' men and women are assigned according to the dictates of `Society,' both then and now. And there is an obvious parallel drawn between the characters of LaMotte and Bailey. Generations later, Bailey has become the person LaMotte aspired to be, and would have been except for the constraints of the times, exemplified by the direction LaMotte's life necessarily had to take, as compared with the options Bailey would enjoy in the same situation today.

The casting of this film could not have been better, beginning with LaBute stalwart Eckhart, who perfectly realizes the character of Michell. Through his performance, he manages to carry the pivotal role of the film, without making his character the focus. Michell is central to the story, but it is not `about' him, though Eckhart does give him something of an enigmatic presence, revealing just enough about him to maintain interest, but no more. Eckhart directs attention to what Michell is doing, rather than who he is, which successfully effects the desired results, and makes the film work.

From the moment she appears on screen, Gwyneth Paltrow is a commanding presence. Her initial entrance is fairly inauspicious, and yet when she steps into the room the eye is automatically drawn to her; it's one of those cinematic ` moments' destined to remain suspended in time. She imbues Maud with a confident reserve which enables her to dominate the scenes she shares with Eckhart, pointing up not only her considerable ability as an actor, but Eckhart's generosity. Beyond all of which, Paltrow has eyes that draw you in like tractor beams.

The players who make this film so emotionally engaging, however, are Jennifer Ehle and Jeremy Northam. With acting souls seemingly tempered for period piece drama, Ehle (`Pride and Prejudice') and Northam (`Wuthering Heights,' `Carrington') make the perfect LaMotte and Ash. In Ehle's Christabel, we discern a character of independence and strength, beneath which lies the romantic nature of the poet; in Northam's Ash we find gentleness and charm, a dreamer who seeks out and finds that which is beautiful and good about the world, the spirit of which he manifests in his work. Their respective performances are elegant, and there is a definite chemistry between them that renders the romance viable and convincing.

The supporting cast includes Trevor Eve (Cropper), Toby Stephens (Fergus), Tom Hickey (Blackadder) and Lena Headey (Christabel's friend). `Possession' is an excursion into new territory for LaBute, and the result is a memorable, transfixing experience for his audience. 10/10.

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