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Possession

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4

All-Reviews.com Movie Review: Possession

Starring: Gwyneth Paltrow, Aaron Eckhart
Director: Neil LaBute
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 102 Minutes
Release Date: August 2002
Genres: Drama, Romance


*Also starring: Jeremy Northam, Jennifer Ehle, Trevor Eve, Toby Stephens, Anna Massey, Lena Headey



Review by Susan Granger
3 stars out of 4

The most romantic film of the summer, "Possession" tells a tale of two couples, separated by time yet bound together by a literary mystery. Roland Mitchell (Aaron Eckhart) is an American scholar in England on a fellowship to study the life and work of Victorian poet laureate Randolph Henry Ash. When he discovers unfinished love letters, he makes a theoretical connection between Ash (Jeremy Northam), who was married, and poetess Christabel LaMotte (Jennifer Ehle). His bold assertion piques the curiosity of an icy British scholar, Maud Bailey (Gwyneth Paltrow), who has been researching LaMotte and her lesbian companion (Lena Headley). Flashbacks of the secretive Ash/LaMotte liaison are intercut with the growing attraction between Mitchell and Bailey as they doggedly pursue their determined detective work, unearthing a surprising cache of impassioned missives and exploring their chaotic emotional archeology. Seemingly effortlessly, Aaron Eckhart wraps around his character and few actresses do repression better than Gwyneth Paltrow, while Jeremy Northam and Jennifer Ehle are convincing. Adapted by David Henry Hwang, Laura Jones and director Neil LaBute from A.S. Byatt's 1990 Booker Prize-winning novel of the same name, it's a deliberate diversion from the darkly comic cynicism of LaBute's previous work ("Nurse Betty," "In the Company of Men," "Your Friends and Neighbors") - and curiously reminiscent of the lyrical "Somewhere In Time." The dialogue, in particular, is seductive, evoking a true appreciation for the language of love. (For the curious: both Ash and LaMotte are fictional characters who never really wrote poetry.) On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Possession" is a sensitive, sincere 7, an opulent courtship saga that spans the centuries.

Copyright 2002 Susan Granger

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