A woman starts exhibiting increasingly disturbing behavior after asking her husband for a divorce. Suspicions of infidelity soon give way to something much more sinister.
Editing: Marie-Sophie Dubus, Suzanne Lang-Willar
Music: Andrzej Korzynski
Cast: Isabelle Adjani, Sam Neil, Margit Carstensen, Heinz Bennent, Johanna Hofer, Carl Duering, Michael Hogben
Directors: Andrzej Zulawski
Writers: Andrzej Zulawski, Frederic Tuten
Cinematography: Bruno Nuytten
I’ve heard about Possession; it’s a film in the years past that I’d listen to others rave about the subway scene as Isabelle Adjani gives it 120% and then some more for extra measure. I pressed play on Possession thinking it would be a wild ride but wasn’t aware it would end up being something that would haunt me for nights on end as I replayed scenes over and over in my head.
Umbrella Entertainment has released Possession as “Beyond Genres #11”, and boy does this film defy genres. It’s a Cold War thriller, a horror movie and above all else, a terrifying, dramatic roller coaster into a marriage that’s ripping itself apart.
Mark (Sam Neil) returns home from a mission behind the Berlin Wall to learn his wife, Anna (Isabelle Adjani), wants a divorce. Assuming the worst, Mark inquires about another man, which Anna doesn’t try to hide, but the truth behind this relationship, how it started, and what it’ll do to Mark and Anna, as well as their son Bob, is something no one could predict.
If you’ve never seen Possession, like I hadn’t, do not read the film’s blurb. I’m aware the film’s original trailer gives away a lot, as does the back of the film’s packaging, but trust me when I say knowing the least, you can only make the Possession experience even more terrifying and wild.
Adjani’s performance earned herself a Best Actress award at Cannes 1981, and it was well-deserved. She’s able to communicate this woman who’s suffered for a long time and who has found someone able to fulfil her needs. But she’s still being torn apart from the two sides of her life. The subway scene I mentioned earlier is one of the most haunting performances I’ve ever seen in any movie, period. And it’s not because it’s gory or disturbing in the way it’s edited. No, it’s entirely on Adjani’s violent performance that’s both horrifying to watch and as if you’re watching someone in the worst moment of their life; for a moment, I forgot I was watching a film and felt bad for staring.