Top positive review
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Art horror brain melt
on 17 September 2009
Possession is totally extraordinary.
Packed with symbolism it can be read on so many possible levels of interpretation it's bewildering.
Set in a European city (obviously Berlin during its partition) in an alienating mixture of ultra modern buildings and decaying grandeur, visually it evokes a sense of dislocation. The plot can't easily be summarised without foretelling too many of the surprises the film contains. Thematically, it seems to be a study of a marriage in the last phase of destruction, with Sam Neill returning from doing a mysterious job (spying?) and meeting his wife played by Isabelle Adjani, whose agitated reaction to his arrival only hints at the deep levels of disturbance she enacts as the film progresses.
What follows is a nightmarish and surreal two hours of startling images, bizarre acting and frequent bloodletting.
If you liked Antichrist you will be interested to see a lot of similar themes in Possession - misogyny, madness, faith, evil and lust permeate a fractured dreamscape with a sustained and unique oddness.
I was put in mind of J.G. Ballard, William Burroughs, Polanski, Cronenberg and David Lynch, but Zulawski's film is totally unique.
Possession was put on the banned list during the Video Nasties era, but don't come to it expecting anything like any of the more exploitation films I've seen off the DPP 39, Possession is as challenging an art-horror as I've ever seen.