For those of you into romance and poetry, "Possession" is definitely worth watching. It serves as the perfect tragic romantic melodrama, with all the poetry, grace and irony involved making this one of the better movies in the genre.
The story is adapted from the book of the same name, by A.S. Byatt. It begins with an American scholar and poet, Roland Michell (Aaron Eckhart), coming across a love letter from an eminent English poet of the 19th century, Randolph Henry Ash (Jeremy Northam), to a woman who is not his wife. He soon learns that the woman was Christabel LaMotte (Jennifer Ehle), a supposed lesbian of the time, who lived with her lover, Blanche Glover (Lena Headey). Roland soon teams up with another English scholar named Maud Bailey (Gwyneth Paltrow), and the two of them embark on a mission to discover the true account of what actually took place between Ash and his lover. Their discoveries soon lead them into realizing their own love for each other, and the romances of two different eras meet.
What I loved about the movie was the smooth flow in telling two stories at once. The movie clearly shows the similarities and the comparisons between the two romances very poetically. The discovery of one's own love, by understanding and almost feeling another's in a completely different period, is something very unique and original. "Possession" boasts of a very interesting storyline, and moves at a very good pace.
In my opinion, the direction in the movie was nothing short of sheer brilliance. It is not easy portraying a romantic movie with such poetic grace and feel, and that too while telling two stories at once. The director, Neil LaBute, has done an excellent job of portraying and adapting the story from the book, without losing its original charm. The acting too, was excellent - I was particularly impressed by Gwyneth Paltrow's portrayal of Maud, and Jeremy Northam's portrayal of the distraught Ash.
The production sets were beautiful, and the environment and setting created for 19th-century England and France were breathtaking. The music in the movie added the right intensity and feel to the moment.
"Possession" is not aimed at the average audience. In my opinion, this movie has created a niche for itself with a very experimental and risky approach. It is not a movie that will work well on all audiences, but is definitely worth watching if you have even a little poetry and romance in your soul.This article was first published on 27 May 2003.