Saturday, August 17, 2002

Possession (IMDB) (Netflix)
A big departure for Neil LaBute, director of often-savage contemporary comedies like Your Friends and Neighbors, In the Company of Men and Nurse Betty. "Possession" is about two simultaneous and problematic romances set in present day and Victorian England, the current one between academics Aaron Eckhart and Gwyneth Paltrow, who are trying to expose a juicy storyline about a famous married poet (Jeremy Northam) and his possible lover (Jennifer Ehle), who had been thought to be exclusively in a "Boston marriage," but may have played with the other team as well.

A more perceptive friend saw some continuity problems and a few actions that were inconsistent with either a character or the times, and there were even a couple of "wait a minute" moments for me. Despite these flaws, Possessions is both an entertaining and moving examination of relationships that, in the hands of decidely un-saccharin LaBute, doesn't deserve to be called a chick flick (the previews were full of trailers for those, karmic payback for the summer popcorn string we've enjoyed). The witty dialogue was marred only by the chucklehead sitting behind me, low profile actress Ehle has a breakthrough role as Northam's object of affection, and the transitions between the past and present are clever without being ostentatious.