Film Reviews:


(Andrzej Zulawski, Fr/West Ger, 1981)

A young Sam Neil looses it after his girlfriend (Isabelle Adjani) with who he has a son has an affair... with a horrific monster she keeps chained in her apartment.

How about that for an original take on the perennial menage a trois?! Zulawski's hysterical (in the mad sense) directing is frequently unintentionally funny but also shockingly dramatic. More art house film than horror flick, Possession also coaxes hysterical performances from its two leads. A bizarre sequence where Adjani makes mince meat in the kitchen while Neil questions her has her switching from catatonic to hyperactive in an alarmingly realistic manner - culminating in an attempted suicide as she tries to cut her own neck with an electric carving knife. Neil then carefully bandages Adjani's neck and then proceeds to systematically cut his arm with the same utensil!

Nothing much is said about the 'monster'. It could simply be a visual metaphor for the insanity that can grip a person and drive them from their loved ones, but within the film's (confused and therefore confusing) narrative it certainly seems real enough. There is some real humour (as opposed to unintentional) that, like most things in this film, although strange is effective. This contrasts starkly with the shocking outburst of violence and bloodletting; the harrowing scene where Adjani has a bloody miscarriage in a subway leaps vividly to mind. Some odd homoerotic undertones crop up when Adjani's human boyfriend appears - a hilarious performance artist who believes his life is a work of art, and the whole thing borders dangerously close to pretentious nonsense at times. But the impressive performances (Adjani in particular is amazing) and distinctly uncomfortable feelings that director Zulawski elicits from the viewer make this a more disturbing experience than watching The Exorcist. Recommended to those who like a challenge.

Rob Dyer

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