Saturday, April 23, 2011

Marriage Bliss

Possession (1981) - Zulawski
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Mark (Sam Neill) comes back to Cold War Berlin after finishing some insidious gov't job, resulting his subject still wearing pink sox. He is taking a break for the sake of his family. It turns out, his wife Anne (Isabelle Adjani) is having an affair with a very odd, über German man, or so he thought. She disappears, comes back to tend their son, gets in to emotional arguments with Mark (both verging into hysteria), then disappears again. Mark puts a tail on her only to have the private detective he hired go missing. There is someone else, or something...

I remember watching this as a curious and horny teen late at night, not understanding what the hell's going on most of the running time. It was that mondo curio value (Isabel Adjani having sex with tentacled monster!) that attracted me. Ah, those were the days.

Possession is an omnifarious film that can result in multiple interpretations. I hear Zulawski was going through a messy divorce during that time. This gory deconstruction of marriage is both farcical to its supposedly sacred institution and emotionally acute. The physical manifestation of raw emotions in Possession has no equal in film, save von Trier's Antichrist maybe. Adjani is unbelievable as the woman who can't be possessed/dispossessed. The ten minute freakout scene in the subway station alone is worth the admission price. Sam Neill shows that he predates Bill Pullman in the fire-within whitebread department. Bruno Nuyten's dizzing, pre-steadycam cinematography is dazzling and desolate West Berlin with The Wall's omniscient presence is perfect for the setting of the best break-up film (sorry, High Fidelity fans) of all time.