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Overall Rating

Awesome: 14.71%
Worth A Look50%
Average: 11.76%
Pretty Bad: 20.59%
Total Crap: 2.94%

3 reviews, 16 user ratings

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Possession (2002)
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by Thom

"The Years Best Trailer!"
2 stars

Whatever A.S. Byatt intended, it wasn’t this film version of the best-selling novel. While the trailer makes the film seem like it is full of mystery, passion and romance, it has anything but. If there is a mystery it is the mystery of how this novel turned into such a horrid film. When two scholars come together to unlock the secret affair of a long dead poet, they end up falling in love with each other. I can go along with suspension of disbelief to help move a story along, but I had to be drug by my collar, kicking and screaming to even accept the almost miraculous chain of events.

The “passion” is melodramatic and as flat as a can of soda sitting on a counter for two days in the Louisiana heat. I don’t know how many movies can be made where the girl who is perfectly happy with a guy who, until the misunderstood loser comes along, suddenly becomes the “wrong” guy. If you put a man and woman in a motel room together who previously had nothing but professional regard for each other and indeed have been nothing but emotionally cold, of course they are going to have that moment where they accidentally lock eyes and think, “Lets get it on!”

And since sex equals love in a female skewed film, it has to be the start of some important relationship. I can’t think of a single reason to go see this. Even the one-liners like “You can’t stand in a fire without getting burned” made me look around and say, “well, where’s the fire?”

The romance in this film is colder than the pussy of a dead seal on the arctic tundra and more limp than an overcooked noodle. There’s nothing to see here. Move Along.

If you need a Paltrow fix, go rent Shallow Hal – that character is just more interesting. And the unpretentiousness of lines like “Later, dude” may save your soul.

Jeremy Northam as the poet Randolph Ash and Jennifer Ehle as his lover Christabel LaMotte turned in fine performances. It was no fault of the actors. If Merchant-Ivory had gotten ahold of this script, they might have done the wise thing and keep the film in the past and forget all about the contemporary story of the pair, Maud (Paltrow) and Roland (Aaron Eckhart) who are discovering the story mostly through random clues found at the most convenient times. Like in a Scooby Doo episode, Velma’s going to find something right in front of her face at some point, the first and only clue which happens to be just the one they need to start cracking the case.

The most ludicrous scenario is when Maud, who is the great granddaughter of Ash, is visiting her great-aunt and uncle and she remembers one of LaMotte’s poems that she’s known for years and suddenly the poem becomes a riddle hiding a clue! So she goes tearing through the house and finds the letters that prove that LaMotte and Ash had an affair that resulted in the birth of a little girl, who it turns out, is Maud’s grandmother.

That final revelatory piece of the puzzle, like so many elements of this film, seemed misplaced. I had no idea the film was about a journey of self-discovery. There was never any intimation that Maud was trying to prove her patronage. I didn’t get nearly as emotional and teary as Maud did when she discovered the news. And then, because she’s so emotional, she decides she is also in love with Roland.

You know how, in Beer commercials, the guy wants to get the girl drunk so he can take her home and get some, and the girl thinks he’s like, really into her as a person and the next day he’s like, “yeah, baby, of course I love you” and he doesn’t really, but as long as he can keep her believing that, he’s got easy access to some tail? That’s how I felt about Roland. I didn’t get a sense of this tender, romantic side. Sure he studies poetry, but I never felt like Ash’s poetry had in some way refined his sensibilities or that he and Maud were coming together through poetry. It just seemed like he was happy to have an instant girlfriend.

I give the romance we are left with at the end of the film approximately two weeks when they roll over and bed, look at each other and say, “naaaah”.

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originally posted: 08/17/02 09:51:26
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User Comments

9/30/20 Suzanne Eckhart is delightful, and the Victorian tale is enchanting. 4 stars
4/03/12 Happy Hotpoint Ehle/Northam, the victorian lovers HOT and that's the way it goes. 5 stars
5/14/10 Lisa Marie Would have been better, more Northam/Ehle / less Paltrow much less. 4 stars
1/28/10 BARBARA RUECKHER Separated by almost 8ys - Kooler, I agre w/you. 4 stars
11/14/09 WYK153 Northam & Ehle are great together!! 5 stars
10/22/08 em Lovely...especially Northam and Ehle! 5 stars
8/25/05 ES If this movie represented the only type of film movies would have died out years ago = dull 1 stars
11/28/04 Lit Fan Lots of potential, but dull execution, trite dialogue, poor character development 2 stars
6/18/04 S martin sleeper! 4 stars
11/06/03 TheOthersFan a contemptible conceit 3 stars
11/04/03 Taylor Fladgate An OK "chick flick" 3 stars
5/15/03 Angie Mooney The period scenes and actors carried it mostly, but Aaron Eckhart is charming in anything 4 stars
9/12/02 Veronica Foxx Paltrow/Eckhart romance was crapilicious. Bleh movie, but Northam is hot & did a fine job. 3 stars
8/30/02 Kooler Paltrow. Ick. 3 stars
8/29/02 Tamara Kiel great 5 stars
8/15/02 Heather Really good movie, could be one of this year's best 5 stars
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  16-Aug-2002 (PG-13)



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