Mark eagerly returns to his wife and child after working away from home for quite some time due to a confidential business venture (which isn’t really explained at any point). Once he is finally face to face with her after being away for so long, Mark is left in a state of dismay when his wife bluntly asks for a divorce out of the blue. Rather than succumbing to her mysterious and emotionally demoralizing demand, he decides to surreptitiously delve deeper into his wife’s personal life in order to find out why she has fallen out of love and is behaving in an immensely erratic manner. While he was hoping to find consolation and closure through this, Mark is thrown into a situation that is disturbingly macabre and beyond comprehension. For today’s Inkling Movie Review, I’ll be covering the psychological horror film, Possession by Andrzej Żuławski.
I think the first words that left my mouth as the closing credits began to roll was probably, “What the [frick] did I just watch!?!?”. Usually after watching a movie, I’m able to let my thoughts on what I’ve seen to clearly coalesce and sink in after a day or two. But after a week has passed after watching Possession, my mind is still in a state of whiplash. I’m not even sure if I’ll be even to fully understand this film on a rewatch, but I think it’s cool that I’m still pondering about it because their are a lot of movies that I’ve watched where I usually tend to forget about it after some days have passed.
One of the biggest takeaways I got as a viewer is that the acting from the two leading roles is outstanding. Sam Neill, who you might be familiar with in his role as Dr. Alan Grant in Jurassic Park, gives a stirring depiction of a man that’s going through a tumultuous and psychologically stressful time in his life. I felt kind of bad for Mark as I watched him trying to maintain a sense of serenity both as a father and husband while the state of his marriage is falling apart. He wants to rekindle his relationship with his wife, but as he tries to get closer to her again on an emotional level, she only pushes him away. The relationship between the husband and wife borders on masochism. Mark allows Anna to visit him and their son with open arms even though she neglects them repeatedly time and time again to meet someone else secretly. It sort of leaves you wondering, how far would you go to win back someone’s affection in a crumbling relationship?
The knockout performance in this film though is from Isabelle Adjani as the housewife, who displays a deep level of unhinged insanity that left me completely speechless and in awe throughout the movie. Their were times where I honestly forgot she was even acting, she felt so viscerally real as a character. with a blink of an eye, she’ll give bloodcurdling screams during a fit of unsettling hysteria, but also have facial expressions that are ominously cold and void of emotion. She is a character that you oddly feel a sense of sympathy and revulsion for at the same time. Even though she’s amorously cheating on her husband, Anna still takes the time to have a motherly presence in her son’s life. The wife’s actions become more disconcerting though once you come to the full realization of all the secrets she’s been hiding from her husband, and where she’s been staying in during her infidelity. I feel like I’d be spoiling the movie for you if I told who or what she was cheating on her husband to, but I’m warning you that it’s not what you are expecting and might even be grossly disturbing. One hint I can give you without disclosing too much information is that it is definitely Lovecraftian.
All in all, while this is not an easy movie to stomach or easy to define, it is still a very riveting and mentally absorbing film to experience. While I think the overall meaning of Possession is totally open to interpretation, I think that this film explores the delicate nature of relationships and the monumental heartbreak that an individual might feel when a special person that they cherish dearly does not want to be an integral part of their life anymore. If you aren’t easily disturbed by gore and nightmare-inducing imagery, I highly recommend Possession.