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Director Neil LaBute may have strayed from familiar territory (Nurse Betty) but he's managed to translate book to screen with compelling directness, and much credit should go not only to the four leads, but also to Lena Headey, who plays the tragic Blanche Glover, LaMotte's rejected lover. Overall it's a very lyrical movie, visually a treat for the eye, with the period detail beautifully caught and much beautiful scenery to be had. And the score itself, by Gabriel Yared, seems to encapsulate England in its pastoral beauty. Yes, of course the intricacies of the novel are much simplified, with some characters written out altogether, but its central spirit is retained and it makes for an ultimately compelling experience.
On the DVD: Possession has a pleasingly sharp and well-defined picture quality that makes the most of the fabulous visuals. However, extras are limited. As well as a list of cast and crew and the usual scene selections and theatrical trailer there's the option of watching the film accompanied by LaBute's commentary, which is enlightening first time around but probably not for repeated viewing. --Harriet Smith
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The adaptation really is splended, and the cast act their socks off. True, they are all infinitely better-looking than any academic I've ever met (I would have pursued English Lit beyond postgrad level if it had been populated by lecturers, even caddish and sneaky lecturers, who resembled Toby Stephens), and I can only imagine that the reason underlying Aaron Eckhardt's poor career progress is that he must have been spending so much time in the gym, rather than the library. They also live in beautiful houses, and cinematographically the film is a delight. But above all the story - which still, despite its compression from a huge doorstop of a discursive narrative to a fairly short film, manages to retain at least vestiges of the debate about, as Maud Bailey puts it, the awful things that men and women do to each other - remains a glorious detective story through the windings of love, literature and some very unethical antics in libraries.
i watched 'possession' time and time again at the cinema; head up, front row. i will watch the DVD whenever i can; it is a privelege to be able to own a copy.
since the cast and the screenplay are so fatefully interlinked, i shall say, in my view the casting was superb. jeremy northam has all the qualities of a respectable poet laureate, and the sexual appeal to match that of jennifer ehle, his leading lady.
aaron ekhart has been much maligned as not being the equal of gwyneth paltrow. i simply dismiss that sort of talk. the point of mr ekhart's character is that he feels inferior, to be looked down on by maud bailey (paltrow) and this is the impression the viewer recieves, from the first images of roland mitchell (ekhart) working studiously, to the dramatic realisation of maud bailey's ancestory. the decision to alter the character from a working-class englishman (in a.s byatt's novel) to an american perhaps makes the inferiority of roland mitchell less obvious to the british audience who would instantly understand the relationship between different social classes.
the film is split across two generations; but they are seamlessly linked. Neil LaBute's film is a triumph, the beauty of which shall be revered for many generations to come.
it is a 'feel-good' film, to make one long for love.