Possession is a combination of drama and psychological horror written by Andrzej Julawski, a Polish filmmaker who spent most of his career in France due to the censorship of the communist regime. This film was shot in West Berlin and is the only work of this author in English. It premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, where Isabella Ajani was named best actress. The film did poorly commercially, while in the UK it was banned as a video nasty, but over time it gained cult status.
Possession movie review, plot
The plot of the film follows the relationship between the international spy Mark (Sam Neil) and his wife Ana (Ajani). Ana starts behaving disturbingly, reveals to Mark that she has an affair and leaves him and their son Bob. Desperate Mark searches for her lover and their meeting ends with a beating. After a series of violent clashes between Mark and Ana, Mark hires a private investigator to accompany her. Ana slowly descends into madness and it soon becomes clear that she is hiding a much bigger secret that is both shocking and inexplicable.
The first half hour of the film promises a hyper-charged family drama in which the characters spend a good part of their time shouting and hurting each other. After arriving from the road, Marko is greeted by a cold and distracted Ana, who tells him about an affair with a man who is older, but physically and mentally far superior to him. Men become more and more possessive towards a woman who distances herself from them, disappears for days and returns all confused. Her secret is revealed by a private detective, and then a shocking unfolding and a complete change of genre begins.
Possession is a type of film that can accommodate Requiem for a Dream or the works of Gaspar Noah, fascinating examples of shocking and shocking intensity that show not always quality, but necessarily enchanting film that is impossible to forget and rarely see again. Despite its premiere in Cannes, this work had a reputation as an infamous film, was banned and butchered by censors, and was considered an artistic horror intended for a narrow circle of European viewers. What is a fact is that it leaves a lot of space for analysis, interpretation and explanation.
Today, it is considered a deeply disturbing examination of the human psyche that fully justifies its reputation in every “positive” and every disgusting sense. I had some expectations from this film in terms of genre, but even the most detailed descriptions of the plot will not prepare you for the dizzying genre roller coaster presented to us by Žulavski. The extremity of violence in the second half and the overall situation between the protagonists is frightening to watch, everything is so raw and real that you feel like you shouldn’t watch it, but you just can’t look away.
The first association to this film is the acting of Isabella Ajani, which is so dynamic and intense that it is justifiably asked how the actress did not lose her mind during the filming. This especially refers to the now famous scene in the subway station where the actress throws herself, shouts and screams. Although Sam Neal occasionally overemphasizes his acting, as the author may have suggested, the entire cast is simply astonishing and presents us with painful feelings with constant intensity – the actors’ commitment to this crazy nightmare is awe-inspiring.
Possession worth watching only if you have already watched art films that push the boundaries of their genre classifications. Here, the author uses horror as a metaphor for his own current state of mind because he wrote the screenplay during the process of a painful divorce – the life horror he felt due to the fact that he could not win his wife’s love was successfully channeled into the screenplay. Of course, for some, all this will be an artistic experiment that leaves no room for enjoyment or admiration.
Possession is an artistic psychological horror that represents a demanding and intense experience that you will hardly want or manage to repeat – a controversial cult film that leaves a lot of room for analysis and free interpretation. Final rating: 7/10
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