An offbeat, episodic film about three friends, Paul, a shy love-seeker, Lloyd, a vibrant conspiracy nut, and Jon, an aspiring filmmaker and peeping tom. The film satirizes free-love, the ... See full summary »
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 <email@example.com>
Composer Bernard Herrmann became infatuated with Geneviève Bujold after seeing her performance in an early cut of "Obsession". His feelings were heightened by Bujold's surprise visit to the soundtrack recording sessions in London in July 1975, the only time the two met in person. Herrmann's friend Charles Gerhardt recalled, "As she spoke to Benny in a heavy French accent I could tell he was about to get the hanky out. She told him of all the trouble she'd had with Cliff Robertson because he spent all his time in makeup and didn't make their love scenes meaningful. She said, 'Mr. Herrmann, he wouldn't make love to me - but you made love to me with your music'. And Benny started to cry. He would tell that story over and over at dinner, and start crying again every time". After Herrmann's death his widow found a photo of Bujold in his wallet. See more »
When Court and Elizabeth are briefly seen dancing to a conspicuous waltz soundtrack (roughly five minutes into the film), their movements and steps are nowhere near in the style of a waltz, clearly indicating that the scene was filmed to another music, with the waltz soundtrack added later. See more »
"Obsession" is one of Brian DePalma's most underrated films. It is a thriller of tremendous power and grace. It is also the recipient of some of the most negative reviews in DePalma's very checkered history.
I personally think that Brian DePalma is one of our very best directors. I would even classify him as a great director. His best films are his thrillers, which are inspired by Alfred Hitchcock's work. Most critics think DePalma is nothing more than someone who rips off Hitchcock. But in his defense, he does not rip off Hitch. He is his own artist. He has his own agenda in each and every film he has made.
"Obsession" is often touted as a "rehash of Vertigo". But DePalma takes the basic premise and turns it upside down, creating twists and revelations that Hitchcock only dreamed of. The film stars Cliff Robertson, in his usual fine performance as a man whose wife and daughter are kidnapped and killed in a setup gone bad. The film opens in 1959 and then skips ahead to 1975 with Robertson standing at the graves (really nice camerawork in this sequence as time fades away) Robertson is in Italy for business when he sees a young woman who strongly resembles his late wife (since both are played by Genevieve Bujold, this is no coincidence)You can pretty much guess the rest.
Or can you? What makes "Obsession" really stand out is the final 25 minutes in which DePalma and cowriter Paul Schrader (himself a fine director; his credits include "Hardcore", "Blue Collar", "American Gigolo" and "Mishima")put in so many twists and turns that a second viewing may be necessary to sort out all the details. While most people may dismiss this as a ripoff of "Vertigo", remember that at this time "Vertigo" was currently unavailable period. No TV viewings, no tapes, no theatrical runs, nothing. DePalma may have been trying to make a film to fill the void left behind by that disappearance. But he makes a film that is more satisfying than the Hitchcock film. "Vertigo", brilliant as it was, was a real downer. "Obsession" is shorter at 98 minutes, but it has a delibirate pace that makes it feel longer. In a lesser work, it would be intolerable, but here it is appropriate.
The technical credits are solid as a rock. The Panavision photography by Vilmos Zsigmond is outstanding as is the Bernard Herrmann score (his next to last). Robertson and Bujold give strong performances, but it is DePalma regular John Lithgow who is the most memorable.
See "Obsession" two or three times to get the full effect. It takes some effort to get used to, but it's worth it.
**** out of 4 stars
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