Talk about a change of pace! Director Neil LaBute, famous for his
hard-edged black comedies like IN THE COMPANY OF MEN and YOUR FRIENDS
& NEIGHBORS, turns his creative energies to a dreamy, romantic mystery
in POSSESSION, a satisfying and entertaining wisp of a story.
Roland Michell (Aaron Eckhart), an American researcher on a fellowship
in England, comes upon love letters between Randolph Henry Ash (Jeremy
Northam), a married Victorian poet, and Christabel LaMotte (Jennifer
Ehle), a bisexual Victorian poet. In order to unearth the secrets
of this previously undiscovered relationship between Ash and LaMotte,
Roland turns to Maud Bailey (Gwyneth Paltrow), a literature professor
and a distant relative of LaMotte. Both pairs of friends become
lovers, and the movie cuts back and forth between the two pairs in
the same place but a century and a half apart in time.
This small, delicate story of literary scholarship and love isn't
really a comedy, although it does engender a few small laughs and
several nice smiles. It is a sweet little mystery covered in romance.
The lush countryside, dotted with stately homes is handsomely captured
by cinematographer Jean-Yves Escoffier. The best and worst part of
the picture is the music by Academy Award winner Gabriel Yared (THE
ENGLISH PATIENT). With heavy, omnipresent violins, it frequently
surpasses and upstages what is otherwise a gossamer tale.
POSSESSION runs 1:42. It is rated PG-13 for "sexuality and some thematic
elements" and would be acceptable for kids around 12 and up.
Copyright © 2002 Steve Rhodes