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28 January 2006

Possession (2002)

Gwyneth Paltrow (Maud), Aaron Eckhart (Roland), Jeremy Northam (Ash) and Jennifer Ehle (Christabel)

Directed by Neil LaBute (Nurse Betty)

From Hollywood Video: "Two scholars, one English and the other American, embark upon a romance which begins to parallel the relationship shared by the 19th- century literary figures they're investigating."


When a film is character-driven, it should contain characters one finds interesting and compelling. When a film is propelled by dialogue, the script should provide an audience with a sense of passion, drive, and the inner workings of any characters' consciousness.

Possession contained no such niceties. Wronged lovers, a passionate affair, throbbing hearts, and guilt-riven brains were talked about at great length, but the emotion was distinctly lacking. The acting, especially from Erin Brockovich's Eckhart, was painful. Even Northam and Ehle, who did their best to simmer with restrained longing and fierce intelligence, could create no heat from the poor material with which they were given to work. And I do wish casting directors would stop assuming that Paltrow's passable English is a useful, commercial substitute for actual English actresses.

The script was rife with hackneyed lines about dumb, pushy Americans, the persecuted Irish, the snobby English, and swishy gays. I guessed the supposed mystery with about an hour to spare, and I am not generally one to search out the surprise endings; I let it flow and like to be surprised. The only surprise here was that a film with such supposed potential for romance was such a vastly disappointing and tedious movie to view.

Blogger Keven said...

I second this review.

Blogger Mircalla said...

Oh my gosh... What a film...

What do you think of Paltrow?

[Well, I found 6 words I didnt know in this review. Thanks.]

Blogger carrie_lofty said...

Just curious: which six words?

Paltrow: I enjoyed her performances in Se7ev, The Talented Mr. Ripley, and half of Sliding Doors (when she wasn't being a chump), but otherwise I find her big doe-eyed calmness a little off-putting. She can seem terribly distant and consecending at times, which she wasn't in the three films I mentioned above.

And her English accent really does annoy me. I think anyone with POSH kind of English would annoy me, but it's even worse coming from an American when over here everyone thinks she sounds like she just walked off a street in London. No, only a certain class of people sound like that in England, and that's where her versitality ends. She couldn't, for example, do Manchester or west London or Norfolk. Or heck, just run of the mill BBC1 radio personality. She just plays it up too posh and proper to be believable. That might have worked in Emma or Shakespeare in Love, but then I just prefer to see English actresses getting work sometimes, especially relating to Jane Austen and Shakespeare!

It's like when people think certain Brits do great American accents. Most of the time, they are doing a regional sound, like Southern or New York or California. The BEST American accent ever done by a Brit was Tim Roth's performance in Reservoir Dogs. It's flat. It's not regional at all, just plain. He could be from anywhere in the Midwest where I grew up. That's amazing to me.

Ramble ended now.

Blogger Mircalla said...


I could understand the sense, but I would not have used those terms—not until now. [I found more unknown terms in your book review...]

Interesting what you say about her accent because it is something that I always wonder about characters, but being a foreigner wouldn't necessarily notice, unless you drive my attention to it.

The last film I saw with her was Sylvia. She was playing an American, so her accent was fine--I think. But in there she was not really acting. She was very distant, as you say. Apparently the filming coincided with her dad’s death which affected a lot her performance—as she justified. If her sorrow came out naturally, her passion and animosity were null. It's like she did not put much effort into the role, and it was a pity because it somehow distorted the feisty personality of this troubled but genial poetess.

Blogger carrie_lofty said...

I think "swishy" would be the only one you couldn't really get by looking it up in a dictionary. It refers to the stereotype where men are outrageously gay, with a sashay in their walk, a lisp, a flippy wrist, etc. It has to do with the "swish" in their walk, a little more femininity to them.

Blogger Diva Kitty's Mom said...

I agree - to quote my niece 'Stinks like poopies Auntie Chelle.' What a waste of Jeremy Northam, Jennifer Ehle & Trevor Eve. Honestly I've never liked Aaron Eckhart in anything.

I watched Jeremy in the Windslow Boy 3 times to erase this film from my mind.

Blogger Diva Kitty's Mom said...

Also, Jeremy Northam and I are destined for each other since we share a birthday - YES WE ARE - Time to pop in Gosford Park again.

Blogger carrie_lofty said...

And here I thought you only got girly for Mr. Darcy :)

Northam seemed like he had potential. I've never seen another film of his. What would you recommend as his best? Swoony is good, so keep that in mind. He may have some fantastic role as a drug dealer or vice cop somewhere, but I wouldn't be all that interested (to start).


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