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Brian De Palma
Robert De Niro,
New Orleans businessman Michael Courtland's life is shattered when his wife and daughter are tragically killed in a botched kidnap rescue attempt. Many years later whilst visiting Italy he meets and falls in love with Sandra Portinari, who bears a striking resemblance to his wife. Written by
Col Needham <firstname.lastname@example.org>
No previews of this movie should be read if there is any chance that it gives away the plot of the movie. The ending is quite unbelievable and heart-stopping. You think all through this movie that you know what is going on--but you won't. I know people who saw this movie and still did not know what actually happened. I was fortunate enough to see this movie in a theater in 1976. There was hardly anyone else in the theater. In one week I saw the movie five times and would have seen it more but the theater ended the showing of it. In my city it was not shown at any other theater. The reason "Obsession" did not do well in ticket sales was that the title made people think of demon possession movies(which many were tired of at that time). It was not marketed correctly. The movie opens in 1959 as a rich business man in New Orleans, Courtland,(Cliff Robertson) is married to a wonderful wife and has a daughter who is about five years old. The wife and daughter are kidnapped and held for ransom. Courtland, thinking that he is doing the safest thing that he can do, contacts the police. The police find the kidnappers and the wife and daughter. The kidnappers escape with the hostages in a car and the police chase them. The kidnapper's car slams into a fuel truck on a bridge and all is lost. Courtland blames himself for the tragedy. Courtland spends the next sixteen years buried in guilt and remorse. Psychotherapy does not do much good. In 1975, Court(as he is known as) is finally persuaded to take a vacation in Italy where his firm conducts business. His partner(John Lithgow, who does a great job speaking Italian with a New Orleans drawl)goes with him. Court goes to a huge,beautiful, cathedral where he makes a heart-rendering, earth-shaking, discovery. All through the movie, care must be taken to carefully observe the paintings, whether they are in the cathedral or in a house. They all have meaning. There are art students in the cathedral who are restoring paintings that have been damaged during a flood(A second chance for the works of art). One of the students,a young woman, bears an uncanny resemblance to Court's dead wife. Court returns later with his business partner who is shocked by the resemblance of the woman. The musical score during these scenes are hauntingly beautiful and tell the story of a man who has awakened from a nightmare of self-reproach. Court meets the student, Sandra(Geniveve Bujold,one of the most beautiful actresses in the world) and takes her to lunch. Lunch turns into dinner and a relationship develops. Court falls madly in love with her. He is alive for the first time since 1959. Court returns with her to New Orleans and announces that he is going to marry her. His friends try to talk him out of this whirlwind romance and give himself time to think about it. Court dismisses their advice and decides to marry Sandra the next day without his friends. Sandra reluctantly agrees. The next morning, Court finds that Sandra has been kidnapped. The ransom note is a copy of the 1959 ransom note. This nearly drives Court info insanity and he decides that this time he will do the ransom right--but will he succeed? The rest of the movie is a frenzy. The last two minutes of the movie should not be viewed by anyone with a heart condition. It is that intense. I cannot explain further because the movie is not only a love story and thriller, but also a mystery. Brian DePalma was a genius for directing this movie. There are several scenes in this movie where the camera rotates around a character, painting a picture of an unsteady state of mind. You can see the same cinematography and effect in the 2005 movie, "Flightplan", with Jodie Foster. Both movies have the same portrayal of one who is desperately cares for a loved one and is dealing with intense guilt from the past. Both movies end in an airport with the main characters doing exactly the same thing, which I cannot reveal without ruining the ending of the movies. You must find a copy of "Obsession" and view it because it is like no other movie--even though some have compared it to Hitchcock's movie, "Vertigo".
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