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movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Possession

Starring: Gwyneth Paltrow, Aaron Eckhart
Director: Neil LaBute
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 102 Minutes
Release Date: August 2002
Genres: Drama, Romance

*Also starring: Jeremy Northam, Jennifer Ehle, Trevor Eve, Toby Stephens, Anna Massey, Lena Headey

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

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

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