Main cast: Gwyneth Paltrow (Maud Bailey), Aaron Eckhart (Roland Michell), Jeremy Northam (Randolph Henry Ash), Jennifer Ehle (Christabel LaMotte), Lena Headey (Blanche Glover), Holly Aird (Ellen Ash), Toby Stephens (Fergus Wolfe), Tom Hollander (Euan), and Trevor Eve (Cropper)
Director: Neil LaBute
Oh my goodness, and they call romance novels melodramatic? Possession is one of the most overwrought, bloated scenery-chewing melodramas I’ve ever come across. Between cringing at the godawful corny lines, staring in horror at Jeremy Northam’s hair (is that… hair?), and itching to give that repulsive-looking Aaron Eckhart a bath and a shave, I don’t know which way is up or down. I just know that this movie makes me feel tingly in the head the way one does when oxygen supply is at an all-time low.
Not to mention that this movie cuts corners around logic for the sake of overblown rubbish. Based on the AS Byatt novel of same name, this movie nonetheless sees Neil LaBute making unnecessary changes to accommodate the casting of the badly miscast Aaron Eckhart. Mr Eckhart mumbles and slurs his way through this movie, his badly flippant “American boyo” delivery jarring discordantly with the rest of the tone and mood of the movie. Memo to Mr Eckhart: having a stubble is not the same thing as acting. But this is what happens when he rides on his best buddy Neil LaBute’s coat tail for so long that all he sees is Mr LaBute’s ass in his face. He probably loses some perspective.
Will any academic collection leave around “lost” love letters for our American Boyo to discover? This is what Boyo does: he discovers the overwrought, as dramatic as watching two bellows wheeze kind of romance between Victorian poet Rudolph Henry Ash and his forbidden girlie. Jeremy Northam’s… hair… is scary, I can’t take my eyes off it. He’s still as luscious as ever, and I can listen to him talk all day, but he is mouthing lines here that are beyond cheesy, and Jennifer Ehle gets only slightly better lines. Between the two of them, they are like two overwrought theater students trying to do a Byronian parody. Only, alas, this ain’t no parody.
Gwyneth Paltrow fares better than Mr Eckhart, although by osmosis, his smug-fuck repulsive method acting and line delivery rub off on the poor gal. She’s one of the few American actresses who can play British women convincingly, but even she feels stilted and unnatural in her accent here.
With overblown lines filled with too many superfluous superlatives flying around, and worse, Aaron Eckhart stripping to his dirty skank boxers and trying to do sexy, Possession is my biggest disappointment of the year. I want my money back.