Obsession (1976) Poster

(1976)

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4/10
De Palma's disappointing answer to Vertigo
Leofwine_draca18 June 2013
OBSESSION, Brian de Palma's answer to Hitchcock's VERTIGO, is the most disappointing film I've seen from the director yet. Despite his steadfast direction and some not-bad performances from the central actors, this is a huge letdown of a film, purely due to the film-flam nature of the storyline. The truth is that it just doesn't hold together under close scrutiny. The whole plot hinges on a conspiracy of sorts which is so ridiculous, so unbelievable, that it could only appear in a movie.

The story opens with ageing Hollywood heartthrob Cliff Robertson losing his wife and daughter during a kidnapping attempt. So far, so good. Unfortunately, the story then cuts to twenty years later and loses any of the focus or interest it had previously generated. It becomes a cheesy, '70s-era romance that goes nowhere, taking an age to build to that aforementioned ridiculous climax that asks the audience to swallow a wholly unbelievable plot. It's impossible.

Robertson is passable as the lead actor, but he never lights up the screen in the way a Stewart, Grant or Peck would have done. He's definitely second-rate material. Genevieve Bujold, as the subject of his affection, is better, but not as good as Margot Kidder in de Palma's previous SISTERS. John Lithgow is a disappointment in the acting stakes, especially given his performance in the much better BLOW OUT. All in all, this is the most disappointing de Palma film I've watched yet, at least up until his work in the mid-'90s.
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6/10
obvious
SnoopyStyle24 May 2020
It's 1959 New Orleans. Elizabeth Courtland (Geneviève Bujold) and daughter Amy are kidnapped for ransom. Michael Courtland (Cliff Robertson) sells to his business partner Robert Lasalle (John Lithgow) to raise the money. Following police advise, he gives the kidnappers fake money and the deal goes badly. Elizabeth and Amy are presumed dead after going off a bridge. Michael builds a tomb for them and refuses to develop the valuable land surrounding it. It's 1975. He and Robert go to Italy for business where he falls for Elizabeth lookalike Sandra Portinari (Geneviève Bujold).

The fake money ended any hopes for greatness. It's an annoying little detail but the movie can still be good. At the very least, the police would use counterfeit money which can be tracked. The kidnappers are probably going to open the suitcase as soon as they get into the van. It's a stupid little detail which I have to ignore. The other problem is that the villain is obvious from the start and the reason for the whole thing can be logically deduced as soon as the premise is revealed after thirty minutes. There is also a final twist that seems obvious as a possibility. It's not quite so well conceived either. I don't really buy the flashbacks and Sandra's progression. Maybe if she was brutalized, she could become submissive to the plan. This is a twisted mystery from director Brian De Palma but it's not as mysterious as it should be.
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6/10
Overwrought melodrama with overblown music
Prismark1022 February 2019
Brian De Palma once again shows his obsession for Alfred Hitchcock. He brings in some overwrought music from Bernard Herrmann.

This is another stylish but flawed film from De Palma with a dreamlike romantic mystery to cover up a controversial strand of the storyline.

Michael Courtland (Cliff Robertson) is a real estate developer in New Orleans whose wife Elizabeth (Geneviève Bujold) and daughter Amy are kidnapped. From the advice of the police, he does not pay the ransom. A botched rescue attempt leads to his wife and daughter's death.

Michael is left devastated. 16 years later, he goes on a business trip to Italy with his business partner Robert LaSalle (John Lithgow.) To his astonishment he meets Sandra Portinari, a woman who looks like his late wife at the same church he originally met her in Italy.

Michael becomes obsessed with Sandra and asks her to marry him. When he brings her to New Orleans, his friends and colleagues are worry about Michael. Fate plays a cruel twist on him as Sandra disappears one morning.

This is a moody, uneven and a slow moving thriller. De Palma is yet to master suspense and the script he co-wrote with Paul Schrader is choppy.

Bujold is very good in a difficult role. Robertson looks like a television actor who struck it lucky with an Oscar. He is just too bland. Lithgow on the other hand is too fruity who signals his nefarious hand in any twist in the plot.
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6/10
Messy and Chaotic Screenplay
claudio_carvalho22 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
In 1959, in New Orleans, the businessman Michael "Mike" Courtland (Cliff Robertson) celebrates the tenth wedding anniversary with his beloved wife Elizabeth (Geneviève Bujold) with a party in his manor. Late night, Elizabeth and their daughter Amy are abducted and the kidnappers leave a note asking the ransom of US$ 500,000.00. However Mike calls the police but the rescue operation is a mess. When the criminals are pursued, there is a car crash and it explodes. Mike blames himself for the death of Elizabeth and Amy and builds a memorial in the location of the accident.

In 1975, Mike travels with his partner Robert Lasalle (John Lithgow) to Florence in a business trip and when he goes to the church where he first met Elizabeth, he sees the worker Sandra Portinari (Geneviève Bujold) that is working in the restoration of a painting of Madonna and is a dead ringer of Elizabeth. Mike becomes obsessed in Sandra and dates her. When Mike travels back to NOLA, he brings Sandra planning to marry her. However, Sandra is also kidnapped and Mike finds a ransom note identical to the one he received when Elizabeth was abducted. Now Mike believes that destiny has given a second chance to him and he does not want to blow it.

"Obsession" is an average thriller by Brian De Palma with a messy and chaotic screenplay. The greatest problem is the lead actor Cliff Robertson that keeps a wooden face with the same expression and never convinces. The plot is also silly and weak since Bob has waited fifteen years to lure Mike and take his real state. The incestuous romance between Mike and Sandra is also lame since she could be a "good catholic girl", but she certainly has had intimacies with her father in the name of revenge. Last but not the least, this is the first feature of John Lithgow, who has always been doomed to be the villain. My vote is six.

Title (Brazil): "Trágica Obsessão" ("Tragic Obsession")
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7/10
Mysterious story, competent performances and sense of style
ma-cortes18 December 2009
A rich businessman (Clift Robertson) meets an enigmatic young girl ( Genevieve Bujold) in Florencia . She is the dead ringer image of his late spouse who was murdered by kidnappers during a car accident at a backfired rescue . It leads to a mesmerizing cycle of traps and lies.

A classic in suspense from De Palma , pitching us right into the action from the beginning and baffling most of us to the ending. There is much for De Palma buffs to savour in this thrilling and atmospheric handling of a complex story with deliberately old-fashioned treatment . Robertson is assured as ever as the obsessed millionaire battling against his obsessions and Bujold in a difficult double role as the girls who looks exactly like the wife, she strangely adds depth to her acting. There are tense key images that that are brilliantly staged. This romantic flick is plenty of mystery, intrigue, and suspenseful. Adding special characteristics techniques as ominous camera movements .

Brian De Palma's homage to Hitchcock and the amusement turn out to be inquire what scenes taken from suspense Master. For that reason takes parts especially from ¨Vertigo¨. All this said, the mechanics of suspense are worked quite well and may frighten the easily scared quite badly, but De Palma has made a habit of dwelling on their more sordid side-shoots. The film displays a great and haunting musical score by Bernard Herrmann, Hitchock's favorite composer and imitating his former hits. Furthermore appropriate cinematography by cameraman Vilmos Zsigmond, though is urgent a necessary remastering because of the colors are faded. The picture is brilliantly directed by Brian De Palma. This one along with ¨ Sisters,Dresssed to Kill, Blow out¨ are outwardly another ode to Hitchcock, but the Master might well shift uneasily in his grave at the long-drawn-out tension, the flash scenes and the shock effects with the accent on gas-provoking , but on most occasion is thrilling. Rating : Above average but gets some riveting basic ideas and fascinating images.
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4/10
Handsome, but not really a mature work, nor an emotionally satisfying one
moonspinner5513 May 2005
Cliff Robertson is the wrong actor to play a man mourning the death of his wife, obsessed over a new woman who strikingly resembles her. James Stewart pulled it off in "Vertigo", and believably conveyed a range of emotions of a man being pulled into an emotional quagmire kicking and fighting. Robertson is alert, but that's about all you can say for him. Director Brian De Palma swirls his camera around him and Genevieve Bujold, but gets nothing visceral going, no emotional involvement. The plot is fairly transparent, the cinematography and color processing are poor, and the supporting cast fails to add much to the low-keyed melodrama. De Palma wanted his own flair and showiness to be the star attraction here, but his languid, surreal mood seems merely plodding, and his obvious regard to the style of Hitchcock isn't made appealing to us. ** from ****
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Dreamlike..
dbdumonteil18 September 2002
...or rather nightmarish,this is probably De Palma"s finest achievement.Here his obsession with Alfred Hitchcock is subdued or thoroughly mastered.Of course we cannot help but thinking of "Vertigo" but De Palma's work is made with taste :two good leads -Cliff Robertson,whose eyes seem to reflect fatality,and Genevieve Bujold whose beauty seems to plunge the audience into a dream(the sequence in the church makes her look like a madonna)-.Besides,Bernard Herrman's score is absolutely mind-boggling,enhancing the strangest sequences in an almost religious incantation.The cinematography is up to scratch,and the directing remains sober.The Hitchcock quotations take a back seat to De Palma's talent:compare this work with the grand guignol of "Carrie" the follow-up,the sensationalism tinged with melodrama of "fury" (no,it's not a remake of the Fritz Lang classic),the plagiarism of "dressed to kill" or "Body double".

One may regret the last pictures in slow motion.But that's minor quibble.This is De Palma's magnum opus,and it will be "blow out" before he puts out a genuinely personal movie.Do not miss it.
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10/10
successful riff on Hitchcock
blanche-28 July 2020
Brian DePalma directed "Obsession" from 1976, starring Cliff Robertson, Genevieve Bujold, John Lithgow.

DePalma often used Hitchcock-like stories, and while this one will remind you a bit of Vertigo, it's a different story.

I won't talk much about the plot, but the story concerns Michael Courtland (Cliff Robertson), a businessman, whose wife and daughter are kidnapped. A rescue attempt fails, and Elizabeth and Amy are killed.

Devastated, years later, Michael a husband and father whose wife, Elizabeth (Geneviève Bujold), and daughter, Amy (Wanda Blackman), have been kidnapped. When a rescue attempt fails, Elizabeth and Amy are killed, leaving Michael devastated and alone.

Years later, on a trip to Florence, Courtland visits the church where he and Elizabeth met. There he sees a young artist, Sandra (Bujold) who is the spitting image of his wife.

Courtland then attempts to turn her into the image of his late wife. What transpires is an ugly case of deja vu.

With music by the wonderful Bernard Herrmann, so important in many Hitchcock films, lyric, almost dreamlike direction by De Palma, and a powerful story, Obsession is a no miss.
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7/10
preposterous and magnetic, beautiful and overwrought, a deliberately flamboyant thriller. who made this?
Quinoa198415 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I wonder what I would have thought, or wonder what someone else would think, if Vertigo was totally out of the mind while watching Obsession. Brian De Palma and his collaborator/partner-in-movie-crime, Paul Schrader, take from Vertigo so blatantly that Hitchcock himself cried foul of ripping off his concept. It's not without some argument that one could see this comparison, especially as the concept behind the movie, like Vertigo, is that of a man absorbed in the mirror-image of his long-lost love in a new woman, and how this relationship to "try again" as it were has some tragic consequences. But each man, Hitchcock and De Palma, had their reasons to make the movie and each can remain at least somewhat separate on their own terms. Vertigo is a masterpiece, and, frankly, Obsession is not. But it's a fascinating picture for what it achieves in its wild, predictably unpredictable manner of narrative, and 'style'.

I put 'style' in quote marks due to it being an obvious point. What would any critic have to describe Brian De Palma's films if not calling them 'stylish', which is a euphemism for "over the top direction based on another, i.e. Hitchcock, with lots of camera movement and flamboyant emotions with the acting and soundtrack"? But in this story this 'style' is warranted more than ever. It's perhaps even more melodramatic than Hitchcock's cerebral romantic-death thriller, as it's about a botched kidnapping of a land developer's wife and little girl. He (a sometimes stiff sometimes very emotional Robertson) sees the car with his wife and daughter go up in flames, but sixteen years later when in Rome he comes across a woman in a church that looks like his late Elizabeth, despite it, of course, being not since it's sixteen years later and she's Italian.

He brings her home to become his wife, but it becomes more than that as we see in dream scenes of the "fuzzy" sort (fuzzy I mean in the camera, like waves) that this is about a second chance for Michael. But, as it of course is in these thrillers of the mad mind and heart from De Palma, things are not at all what they seem (and, after all, it has John Lithgow as Michael's business partner... hope that's not in and of itself a spoiler). De Palma and Schrader handle these story details and the characters with an attention to how precisely dramatic, tragic and heightened the sense of reality is. A lot of this movie, even when it seems to be perfectly simple and straightforward, like when Sandra is looking through the contents of the locked room in the house, is in a hyper-realistic quality, which later pays off when the double-crosses are revealed and it turns hyper-melodramatic, too.

It's a go-for-broke approach to this story, ultimately, and you either go for it you don't really, and this despite (or in spite of perhaps) whatever you think of its connection to Vertigo or Hitchcock in general. I went for it, recognizing that some of the acting by Robertson and Bujold wasn't always convincing (Bujold is quite beautiful, but truly effective only in the last reels), and how ridiculous it all seems in retrospect- a common trait in these De Palma thrillers (i.e. Dressed to Kill, Sisters, Raising Cain). But another asset, a crucial one, the one that keeps me thinking about the movie, is Bernard Herrmann.

This is the most obvious reference point to Hitchcock's 'grammar', if you will, and it was his second to last score - the one that really is "Herrmann-esque" is taking aside Taxi Driver - showing his own admiration for De Palma's approach. There wouldn't be such a good movie in Obsession if not for Herrmann, whose high strings and melodic chorus provide much needed- or a perfectly sizable "too much" factor- in the scenes and movements. Especially that last shot, pirouetting around Robertson and Bujold, is amplified wonderfully by the music. It's as much his film, if perhaps not more-so, than the director or writer's.
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4/10
Exactly whose "Obsession" are we talking about here?
Coventry18 October 2018
Wait, I'm confused here. Exactly to whom is the titular "Obsession" referring to? I suppose it hints at protagonist Michael Courtland's firm believe that a young student-painter is the reincarnation of his beloved wife who got killed during a kidnapping. Granted, Courtland always stares rather eerily at the much younger Sandra and he's quite hasty to marry her, but he isn't *that* obsessed. I'm afraid that our director, Brian De Palma, suffers from a much bigger and more pitiable obsession, namely with the oeuvre of Alfred Hitchcock and perhaps even also with the desire to be seen as the Master of Suspense's ultimate successor! It's downright astounding how De Palma, with a little bit of help of writer Paul Schrader, blatantly copies "Vertigo", and borrows elements and ideas from other Hitchcock classics. In other words, there are several amazingly choreographed scenes and brilliantly unique camera angles in "Obsession", but we all know that virtuoso photography alone doesn't still make a good movie! This film has, at least as far as I'm considered, three major problems. In order from least to most irritating, they are: acting, lack of genre and pacing. Cliff Robertson is quite alright, but Genevière Bujold and especially John Lithgow are intolerably bad. Luckily there are only three lead characters in the film. I personally even don't understand how Lithgow still got assignments after this! "Obsession" is presented as a thriller, but the themes and subject matter honestly don't lend themselves for a suspense thriller. Throughout 95% of the running time, "Obsession" feels like a melodrama, and a truly dull one to boot. It only turns into a thriller with predictable revelations and perverted denouements during the last handful of minutes. Finally, the film is just too damn slow! The story already isn't very interesting, but the excruciatingly tame pace makes it even less endurable.
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The Child
tedg21 March 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers herein.

dePalma is almost always worth watching, simply because of the novelty of the quirky, engaging way he places us. The camera is highly choreographed, and the `mood' of the camera movement is tied to the mood and folds of the story. Hitchcock developed this notion, and when dePalma uses it, he doesn't necessarily us any of the specific movements or plot devices. Usually his plot setups are much more cerebral than Hitchcock's except in the cases of `Vertigo' and `Rear Window,' the two of his films most self-consciously about themselves.

In this case, Brian and Paul liked the linkage so much they did adopt it. The Vertigo linkage was simple: some of the characters create a `movie' for Jimmy Stewart, and then he creates his own `movie.' The struggle is among Stewart, the conspirators in the film, and Hitchcock (and us) each of whom struggle for the camera. Each of whom temporarily gain control of the `eye' and create the history we see.

dePalma goes one better. Instead of relating simple romantic sex to the act of creating a film, he added the element of a child with (as we slowly discover) our eye having been incestuous all along. Father-daughter, lover-loved, kidnapped-ransomed, `developed,' `memorialized,' therapy, multileveled paintings. All pretty clever. It works so far as the general viewing public because of the extraordinary mother/child folding that Bujold pulls off.

But, if you are interested in film, it also works because of the way the camera is controlled.

Unfortunately, in a story worthy of Orson Welles, the studio forced some heavyhanded changes: one of the folds is turned into a clear dream sequence (so there really was no father/daughter sex), and a whole final act was abandoned, where the folding was explicitly revealed.

Oh well. This is minor dePalma. Check out `Snake Eyes.'

Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 4: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.
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8/10
Déjà vu and Déjà vu.
hitchcockthelegend12 February 2014
Obsession is directed by Brian De Palma and written by Paul Schrader. It stars Cliff Robertson, Genevieve Bujold and John Lithgow. Music is by Bernard Herrmann and cinematography by Vismos Zsigmond.

You either love him or hate him, it seems. Brian De Palma that is. He's an amazing stylist who made some piercingly great thrillers in the tradition of Maestro Hitchcock, or he's a knock off artist using style to hide his inadequacies as a story teller? One thing for sure, for a good portion of the 70s and 80s his films would not be ignored, for better or worse depending on your own proclivities of course.

Obsession, as has been noted numerous times, is De Palma's homage to Hitchcock's masterpiece, Vertigo. It's not a straight out copy as some reviewers have somehow managed to convince themselves, but narrative drive is similar. Robertson in grief for a passed on wife (Bujold) and daughter meets a doppelganger (also Bujold) of his dead wife 16 years down the line and becomes obsessed with her. As the new woman reciprocates the attraction, the relationship becomes wrought and borderline unhealthy, reaching a crescendo when muddy waters are stirred and revelations force the can to open and worms to spill everywhere.

When remembering that for a long time Vertigo was out of circulation in the 70s, Obsession was sure as hell a good second option for anyone hankering for a superbly stylish thriller boiling over with psychological smarts. Even if you buy into the style over substance argument, what style there is here though. Roving camera work, up tilts, haze surrounds, canted frames, pan arounds, dream shimmers and personalised focus. Add in the splendid use of New Orleans and Tuscany locations and Herrmann's sensually dangerous score (lifted in part and re-worked from Vertigo) and it has style to burn. While the big reveals at pic's culmination are in turn intriguing and daring; even if the original ending planned would have really put the cat among the pigeons and made for a more potent piece ripe for heated discussion.

Lead cast are on fine form, Robertson plays it superbly as a wistful and damaged wastrel, guilt and obsession seeping from every pore. Bujold is just darling, a telling twin performance that actually doesn't demand to be noticed until late in the play. While Lithgow stomps around the edges of the frame like some shyster lawyer whose tie is on too tight. Ultimately Obsession is a film crafted in the mode of Hitchcock, but not in anyway disgracefully so. This is no illegitimate relation to Vertigo, it's more like a reliable brother-in-law. Pulpy, Trashy but also Classy. Great. 8/10
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8/10
Typically stylish work by De Palma.
Hey_Sweden26 May 2012
Director Brian De Palma and screenwriter Paul Schrader pay tribute to Hitchcock's "Vertigo" with this slow, dreamy, romantic thriller, a fine and involving film with some great acting. Cliff Robertson plays Michael Courtland, a New Orleans businessman whose wife and daughter are kidnapped and held for ransom. The attempt to rescue them goes horribly bad and Michael's life is shattered. 17 years later, he and business partner Robert Lasalle (John Lithgow) are in Rome on business when Michael catches notice of Sandra (Genevieve Bujold), an art historian who is the spitting image of his wife, and he falls in love with her. Now, the twists coming at around the 80 minute mark make this all worth it. De Palma's theme of obsession has recurred in his work and in this case it's a romantic obsession as Michael is determined to right the wrong he feels he made and not lose the woman he loves for a second time. The pacing is deliberate but the atmosphere is excellent, with some great location shooting. And the music score by Bernard Herrmann is one of his absolute best, setting the mood for each and every scene. The acting is top notch; Bujold's classic beauty is well utilized in her multiple roles, and she's extremely appealing to boot. Lithgow is solid as always in his supporting role, while Robertson comes off as a little reserved, although it would be hard to watch this and not feel some sympathy for the guy. The story is entertaining and De Palma and company make this an appropriately somber affair, with not much in the way of humour, and handle the material with a fair amount of subtlety and dignity. It's very well shot in Panavision by the great Vilmos Zsigmond, and it just draws you right in, right from its unnerving first act to its final scene. It's a fine effort from all concerned. Eight out of 10.
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6/10
Cleverly contrived plot with a stunning Herrmann score...
Doylenf1 October 2006
Brian dePalma really accomplished quite a feat by paying homage to Hitchcock with a strong variation on VERTIGO's theme--a man who loses the woman he loves sees her reincarnated in another woman and then loses her too.

He takes this premise and does some fancy camera-work that swirls around the lovers with an intensity only matched by the whirling colors of Bernard Herrmann's magical score. He sets up the tale by having a convincing kidnapping take place in which his wife and daughter are taken by the criminals and has him mourning their loss until he encounters another woman in Italy, years later, who strongly resembles his presumably dead wife.

The rest of the plot must remain undisclosed for "spoiler" purposes, but I'm sure there are those who will at least have a suspicion as to the real purpose of all the foregoing events.

CLIFF ROBERTSON has the difficult chore of appearing downtrodden and depressed most of the time, so GENEVIEVE BUJOLD has the task of brightening up the tale with her unconventional good looks and upbeat manner. JOHN LITHGOW makes his screen debut as Robertson's close friend and business acquaintance.

If it's a stylish dePalma movie you're in the mood for, this one will fill the bill nicely. And that Bernard Herrmann score alone makes watching the movie completely worthwhile. It's dazzling.
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4/10
Far fetched thriller.
poolandrews31 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Obsession starts in New Orleans in 1959 as businessman Michael Courtland (Cliff Robertson) & his wife Elizabeth (Geneviève Bujold) celebrate their wedding anniversary, after all the guests have gone home Elizabeth & their young daughter Amy are kidnapped & a ransom note is left. Michael calls the police but the kidnappers get away & in a pursuit crashes & explodes killing everyone inside, devastated Michael blames himself for calling the police. Fifteen years later while on holiday in Italy Michael decides to visit the Church where he first met Elizabeth & is startled to see a young artist named Sandra Portinari (Geneviève Bujold) who is the spitting image of Elizabeth, he becomes obsessed with Sandra & becomes convinced she is Elizabeth. After a brief romance Michael proposes & she agrees, traveling back to New Orleans & marrying Sandra is also kidnapped & a ransom note is left just like fifteen years ago...

Directed by Brian De Palma he & screenwriter Paul Schrader apparently decided to make the film after watching Alfred Hitchcock's classic Vertigo (1958), originally titled Déjà Vu this is a rather far fetched thriller that is watchable as long as you don't think about the plot too hard. Split up into three sections the script tries to be clever but the twist's don't quite add up, Obsession starts off as a straight kidnap thriller & then turns into a fantasy romance & finishes with various twist's that are alright but a silly & never come across as well thought out. The main plot by the villain to get their hands on Michael's share of the business is rather complicated & relies on a lot of coincidence & things they could never predict to happen perfectly (Michael's reaction to Sandra in particular), wouldn't it have been easier to just kill him? Why admit everything to Michael? Why give him the briefcase full of money back? That sort of ruins a very complex plan that probably took a lot of time & effort to execute, doesn't it? At just over 90 minutes Obsession has a slow going middle third as Michael & Sandra fall in love & marry & the final twist isn't really worth waiting for to be honest. The character's are a bit dumb too, the cops who mess up the original kidnapping & Michael who must be really gullible to fall for Sandra particularly the way she just instantly falls for him too. Also, the final twist led me to consider the possibility of incest here, surely Michael & Sandra would have had sex during their swift romance? Think about it.

Well made as you would expect from De Palma the soft focus watercolour photography is quite nice although that last shot where the camera spins round for what seems like an eternity made me feel a bit dizzy. No violence or nudity to speak of Obsession is tame as far as 70's thrillers go. The locations are nice enough & it's polished but not particularly memorable.

With a supposed budget of about $1,400,000 this was filmed in New Orleans & in Florence in Italy. The acting is alright, John Lithgow has a very silly accent throughout while Robertson is workmanlike, Bujold is OK & looks quite nice in a dual role that's basically the same person.

Obsession is meant to be a twist filled thriller, the slow middle section doesn't help neither do some poorly thought out twist's, decision making & motivations. Could have been worse but it could have been better, both De Palma & Schrader have done much better things than Obsession.
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7/10
Not De Palma's best but it shows his qualities.
Boba_Fett113822 March 2009
The Brian De Palma today isn't the Brian De Palma he used to be. Early on in his career he made some truly brilliant- and also often very underrated and under-appreciated movies. "Obsession" is one of his earlier movies, made before his big breakthrough with the movie "Carrie". Although this movie certainly isn't among his best it's still an above average genre movie, due to De Palma's direction quality.

It's obvious that the biggest influence in De Palma's work is Hitchcock. Some people call him a Hitchcock rip-off but his movies are often simply too good and classy for that. Nothing wrong with someone carrying on Hitchcock's work in a more modern day and age of film-making. De Palma's movies are often very old fashioned in their style and way of storytelling. Whenever a movie attempts to be old fashioned, like movies from the '40's, it often ends up being a complete failure. De Palma however often succeeds in this, as is the case- though to some less extend, with this movie.

This is far from a perfect genre movie and those who are familiar with these type of movies can see the twists coming from miles away. It's a very little surprising movie that however still has plenty of qualities that uplift it.

The main thing that keeps this movie down is really its story. It's rather slow (because it's done in an old fashioned style) and it's made even slower by its main character that looks depressed all of the time. It's hard to really care for him when he's walking around so moody all of the time. Hard to say if this is Cliff Robertson's fault, or the script or directing. Probably all three are too blame for it.

It nevertheless remains a very pleasant movie to watch, due to its style. It's a real good looking movie, that with Vilmos Zsigmond also has a nice director of photography involved. It was the first collaboration between him and Brian De Palma, out of 4 movies they did together so far. The fine musical score is from Alfred Hitchcock's steady composer Bernard Herrmann, which really helps to set the right mood for this movie as well. He died shortly afterward. He was supposed to become Brian De Palma's new main composer but it unfortunately wasn't to be.

The movie has some real typical trademark Brian De Palma moments in them. Sequences that make the movie great and memorable, even when the rest of the movie just isn't that great or interesting to watch. The ending is also typical De Palma-like, even though it isn't the best or most satisfying ending imaginable for the movie.

It was also great to see a still fairly young John Litgow in this movie. It was one of his first movie roles and he did a great job within this movie, especially with his accent. He later also appeared in other De Palma movies, though ironically never his best known ones.

A good early De Palma movie, that already shows his talent and trademark style, that made me a fan of his work, even his lesser movies.

7/10

http://bobafett1138.blogspot.com/
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7/10
This movie is cleverly designed to document how . . .
oscaralbert6 July 2021
Warning: Spoilers
. . . most if not all "rich people" are weak, craven, narcissistic, crazy, warped, deviant sociopaths with no redeeming civic value. Just as recent Game-Show-Host-in-Chief Don Juan bragged to raunchy radio roaster Howard about what "a fine piece of donkey" his own daughter was, Rich Red State Realtor Courtland weds and beds HIS only child, Amy/Sandra, to climax OBSESSION. This flick suggests that it is every Mercenary Money Miser's dream to metal fastener themselves, and that camel-bulging their own child is the next best substitute. Since America cannot handle The Truth about how perverse Lucifer's acolytes truly are, the base "core supporters" who share the genes making Wealthy Fat Cat One Per Centers prone to demonic possession have lately changed the U. S. Constitution to force their daughters to bear their OWN grandchildren, all medical and ethical humane interventions prohibited on the pain of death. OBSESSION tells us "Good luck with THAT!"
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7/10
No fear of heights
TBJCSKCNRRQTreviews11 July 2010
It's impossible to talk about this for very long without dealing with the elephant in the room. Yes, De Palma, as several other talented directors, is a fan of Hitchcock(and this lives up to his style well, without being a copy), and yes, aspects of this do bear a striking resemblance to Vertigo. Neither of the plots hold up to close scrutiny yet are compelling and keep you wanting to find out more, the reveals are gripping and the focus is on the emotion. The well-done, mysterious scores are done by the same composer, if it's a tad bombastic here. Both starring ladies are attractive; Bujold's performance is stunning, Novak is the greater beauty. Stewart surprised in an unexpected role, Robertson(who I've barely seen in anything else) is bland without being boring. The theme of obsession is important in them. With all of that said, this is different, and ought not to be regarded as a mere remake(one was not, and is not, necessary). Alfred chose to be angry; I think it would have been fitting for him to be proud. As far as tributes to him and his work go, this is among the best. Florence is haunting in this. The build-up of mood and atmosphere, leading to the inevitable and remarkable climax, is gradual but it pays off. Let this absorb you. It possesses a dream-like quality that stays with you. What there is of suspense and tension is effective, and this keeps you engaged. The acting is good for the most part. Lithgow's convincing accent and his unflattering moustache balance each other out. This is well-edited and the cinematography is nicely done. The FX are decent(there aren't enough for this to be a bother; this is subtle and doesn't try too hard). This is one of the seven pictures by Brian I've watched, the others being Carrie, The Untouchables, Scarface, Snake Eyes, Mission: Impossible and Black Dahlia. There is disturbing content in this, and not everyone will be comfortable with it. The DVD comes with interesting trivia(note that it spoils the movie), a trailer for this and a bunch of others, and a 36 second photo gallery. I recommend this to any fan of either skillful film-maker. 7/10
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8/10
Obsession-Noun:A compulsive and often unreasonable idea or emotion.
morrison-dylan-fan14 August 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Around six weeks before a brilliant independent video store shut its doors for the last time in its twenty plus year history,I stumbled upon a DVD with a very muddy cover.Looking at the back of the case,I noticed that Brian De Palma was listed as the director.With my friend having been raving (at the time) about a De Palma film called Scarface,I felt that this was a film that was worth a try.During my viewing of the film,I ended up being left with very mixed feeling about the DVD of the film.For the film it self,I got a strong sense that it would be a movie that would really "click" for me on a second viewing,whist the DVD sadly damaged my enjoyment of the film badly,due to the picture looking like it had been covered in mud,and the soundtrack almost sounding as if it was coming from half a mile away..With having this year become a fan of an Italian film genre called Giallo,I went searching round on Amazon UK to see what titles a DVD/Blu- Ray company called Arrow was planning to bring out.

As I was getting closer to the end of the list,I was surprised to see an upcoming Blu-Ray of Obsession that Arrow were about to bring out.Reading the details of the Blu-Ray,I was thrilled to see that Arrow had packed the disc with a huge number of great sounding extras,which included the original screenplay of the film!.With my interest in revisiting the film being given a huge boost,I felt that it was the perfect time for me to become obsessed with Obsession..

View on the film:

When deciding if I should pick up the Blu-ray,the main thing that got me very interested in the set,was that the original screenplay by Paul "Taxi Driver" Schrader (titled Deja Vu) was going to be published in a huge booklet with the disc.Reading Scrader's screenplay,it is eye-opening to see that whilst he is most known for his hard-nosed scripts set in an underbelly universe,here Schrader goes on an flight of fantasy,which actually makes it much more unsettling than it would be set in "reality".Sadly,due to how "out there" Scrader's script went,the studio and director Brian De Palma decided that huge sections of the script needed to be cut (something which still angers Scrader,due to him feeling that it was his "masterpiece".)

Thankfully,what remains of the brilliant screenplay,and the new additions to the story by De Palma help to create a film whose dream-logic always feels that it might be about to tip into a nightmarish world.For his excellent directing,De Palma (almost) uses all of his camera moves to hint at parts of the story which become much more noticeable on repeat viewing,with the opening of Michael's anniversary party,being something that can at first be seen as De Palma trying to show Courtland as a "family man",which on a second viewing,actually seems to be giving a subtle suggestion to something deeply disturbing.

Although there is a strong whiff of Hitchcock's Vertigo,the amazing cast (with a stunning Genevive Bujold ,who massively helps to pull the huge twist ending off smoothly )and crew get the film to rise well above being any "copycat",with Courtland's increasing obsession to regain a part of his long lost self,giving the film a mesmerising haunting-dream mood.
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7/10
De Palma's Obsession
The_Void25 October 2004
Brian De Palma has made a name for himself doing tributes to the great Alfred Hitchcock, and although this tribute is generally well liked amongst films fans; it's not one of the better ones. What makes films like 'Dressed to Kill' and 'Sisters' great is that although De Palma has borrowed (heavily!) from the master, he's always managed to take and yet create something fresh and inventive with it. Look at Dressed to Kill, for example; the Psycho influences were more than obvious, but the film is so fresh and inventive that you would be forgiven for thinking that De Palma had made something on his own. Here, however, he's just took one of Vertigo's main plot details, and made a film out of it. The result is merely a film that is a rip off of Vertigo and not much else. The plot follows the story of Michael Courtland; a man whose wife and child are killed during a botched kidnap rescue attempt. I don't really need to tell you what comes next if you've seen Vertigo, but I will anyway; sixteen years later, he meets a woman that looks exactly like his wife and begins to develop an obsession with her. Who'd have thought it, eh?

The film is set in Italy, which gives it a very euro-horror feel, not too dissimilar to the masterpiece; Don't Look Now. The atmosphere is actually one of the best things about the film, which is fairly sad in a movie that should be mostly story driven. Cliff Robertson takes the lead role, and plays it without much charisma. Of course, the character isn't very charismatic himself, but the performance is largely boring and I think that De Palma could have done a better job with the casting there. Starring alongside Robertson is Geneviève Bujold, and she isn't any better them him. Hers is another lackluster performance. The plotting of the film is another thing that isn't so good, especially when you consider that De Palma had a masterpiece of storytelling for his blueprint (that's Vertigo, if you're not keeping up). Too much time is spent on the more boring things - such as an overly long romantic sequence, when De Palma would have been better off shortening it and spending more time building towards the twist. The twist itself is predictable when you've seen Vertigo, much like the rest of the film, but it would come as something of a surprise if you haven't.

Overall, Obsession lacks freshness and only adds weight to the claim that De Palma is a pretentious plagiariser. However, there are some things to be liked about the film but a lot of them are lost if you have, like almost everyone else, seen Vertigo. And if you haven't seen Vertigo, you shouldn't see this as it will undoubtedly tarnish your first viewing of the aforementioned masterpiece. Obsession is decent enough entertainment to be enjoyed, but if you want to see De Palma do Hitchcock; see Dressed to Kill, Sisters or the delirious campy Body Double and leave this to the die-hard De Palma fans.
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8/10
An audacious movie
christopher-underwood24 August 2017
An audacious movie in that we, as viewers, are as out of the loop as Cliff Robertson and that with its many allusions to Vertigo should have the services of the same composer, Bernard Herrmann. It is a powerful and emotional tale told in much the same tone as the Hitchcock film and I find it just as moving. Robertson, however, is no James Stewart and although doing well early on just doesn't seem at ease or convincing as the lovely Genevieve Bujold's lover. Maybe it was the incestuous implications that unnerved him, though I understand Columbia insisted on making the marriage/lovemaking footage, a dream sequence. Part of the power of this film is, inevitably the comparison with the Hitchcock film and the continuous reminder of it through the wonderful score that is so reminiscent of the early one. Plenty of twists and surprises, some beautiful cinematography and it is always good to see Florence on film, even in the rain.
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7/10
De Palma's under-appreciated homage to Vertigo
lasttimeisaw12 January 2016
Overshadowed by De Palma's own cult-classic CARRIE (1976) in the same year, OBSESSION ostensibly is De Palma's homage to Hitchcock's VERTIGO (1958) about a man, who is obsessed with a woman who is (presumably) dead, is given a second chance from her doppelgänger with a sinister scheme lurking behind. Although De Palma's execution lacks the professional attentiveness to the details, e.g. the obtrusive anachronism of the opening scenes supposed happening in the 1950s, thanks to Schrader's uncanny screenplay; the atmospheric craftsmanship of D.P. Vilmos Zsigmond (1930-2016), the master-hand who has just left us in the 1st January; and Bernard Herrmann's (the original composer of VERTIGO) Oscar-nominated solemn score, which is grandiosely awe-inspiring right from the ominous opening credits, OBSESSION is undeservedly being categorised as a shoddy pastiche, and deserves a better recognition for its own sake.

Even in the fantastic cinema realm, the encounter with a woman who looks very much alike his dead wife, 16 years after her unfortunate death, at the exact locale, is too much a stretch to pull it off as a pure coincidence, but American real estate businessman Michael Courtland (Robertson) believes firmly. The story starts in the late 1950s, on the night of their 10th wedding anniversary, Michael's wife Elizabeth (Bujold) and their daughter Amy (Blackman) are kidnapped, and choosing to follow the police department's advice, Michael uses blank notes instead of real money as the ransom, the plan backfires with all the kidnappers and hostages dead due to a dead collision and explosion. 16 years has passed, Michael has to live through the consequences and has been deeply mired in self-accusation and remorse, during a business trip to Florence with his business partner Robert (Lithgow), miraculously he meets a young Italian girl Sandra Portinari (Bujold) who looks exactly like Elizabeth, and is doing some preliminary work to the restoration of a fresco of Madonna and Child in the church where he and Elizabeth met for the first time. Their very first conversation is about art restoration, and betrays Michael's preference of refurbishing the beautiful facade to digging up the truth beneath. Mutual attractions kindle, Michael's backstory is frankly accepted by Sandra, and a speedy marriage is under the way. Michael is believed to given a second chance from Elizabeth, to redeem the haunting guilt, until Sandra is kidnapped by the same fashion, this time, can he right the wrong or is there some bigger scheme involved?

There is a simple and plausible explanation of the resemblance between Elizabeth and Sandra, but one wonders whether the story will advance into an incestuous scandal (considering American audience's priggish taste), and it turns out De Palma and Schrader are actually carrying this take- no-prisoners approach until the finale, where De Palma's suspenseful style reaches its trance-like apex, all is drawn to a split-second decision whether it will end as a gut-punching shocker or a less disturbing but also less convincing reconciliation. Even though it opts for the safer option in the eleventh hour, the film is still an effective thriller to say the least, leaving audience to wait for the axe to fall until the very end.

Performance-wise, Oscar-winning actor Cliff Robertson's turn as a guilt-ridden husband hopelessly having recourse to a second chance to do the right thing is too broad and sometimes even a bit wooden apart from the glistening light in his eyes when he meets Sandra, surely is less compelling than his co-star Bujold, whose baby-face brings out a great effect in the key moments with De Palma's sleight-of-hand where the truth is replayed from her troubled mind, and one important factor that we can buy this tall-tale is her deceitful callowness; whereas Lithgow, offers his best annoying mannerism in spite of showing almost no ageing during a 16-year gap apart from a convenient moustache. On a whole, OBSESSION is singularly enjoyable, not as excellent as VERTIGO, but not a forgettable dud either.
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Le Grand Fromage
tieman6420 September 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Start with "Vertigo", Alfred Hitchcock's 1958 masterpiece in which a man becomes obsessed with "the image of a woman" to such an extent that he "remakes a woman to resemble this idealised image".

Flash-forward to Brian De Palma's "Obsession" (1976), a film in which the director reveals himself to so obsessed with Hitchcock that he moulds his own film - literally his "Obsession" - into the image of Hitchcock's "Vertigo".

Not only that, but the lead character of this "new film" is himself so obsessed with "the image of his lost wife" that he "remakes a strange woman to resemble his wife's image". The problem is, the woman he "remakes" is his daughter, his infatuation is incestuous and she's busy restoring or remaking a fresco in a church. End result? An obsessive remake of a film about remakes and obsessions which is itself about the destructive obsession of remaking. In other words, its an allegory for not only the postmodern predicament, but De Palma's own brand of cinema, which stages revivalism as a form of necrophilia, indecency, voyeurism or incest.

The plot: Cliff Robertson plays Michael Courtland, a man paralysed by melancholia. Courtland, we learn, lost his wife and daughter during a bungled kidnapping and ransom situation many years ago. Rather than pay the kidnappers money, Courtland filled a suitcase with blank pieces of paper, an act of deception which led to the deaths of his wife and daughter. And that is the awful, crippling weight Courtland now bears: he chose the money over his family. Over the "real image". Money thus become abhorrent to Courtland, and he begins to increasingly associate his wealth with the loss of his wife and child. This becomes the first "risk" of the film: because he dared not risk losing something valuable, Courtland has lost the ability to find value in anything.

Years later, however, Courtland sees a double of his dead wife. She's not only a "perfect image" but an "impossible image", as she looks not as she would be now, but exactly as she looked then. Furthermore, this strange doppelganger is working on – naturally - the restoration of a local church. It is here where she faces a dilemma: beneath one of the church's frescoes seems to be another painting. It could be a great lost masterpiece or it could be nothing. This is the second risk of the film: should she risk destroying the fresco for the sake of what might only be a stain?

Of course this dilemma, this risk, is doubled in both Courtland and the doppelganger: should he investigate and dig deeper at the risk of destroying this young woman, or worse, destroying his image of her? And should she dig deeper into Courtland, at the risk of losing a potential lover?

The film's ending, suffused with a dream-like haze (indeed, everything and everyone in the film seems dead, ghostly, like resurrected images), initially seems to be a happy ending, a moment of resolution, but look closer and it is a vaporous, disturbing, distinctly creepy thing; father and daughter, subject and object, lover and incestuous image, spinning around and around, gripping each other's hands…

One must remember that De Palma directed both "Phantom of the Paradise" and "Get To Know Your Rabbit" before "Obsession". "Paradise" was about a devilish record producer who constantly resurrects nostalgia bands and an artist who, in aligning himself with a parasitic devil, sells his soul in order to make easy cash. So if "Obsession" is about resurrecting "images from the past", "Phantom's" preoccupied with a resurrecting of past sounds. And of course "Get To Know Your Rabbit" is about a man who quits this soul-deadening cycle to become an artist. How does he do this? He becomes a magician (a career choice which leads to him being exiled and ostracised by friends, co-workers and family) and trains under none other than Orson Welles, a director kicked out of Hollywood for refusing to sell his soul (or more correctly, repeatedly forced to sell his soul) and for being too original. Problem is, as soon as the film's hero becomes a successful magician, the devils come knocking again, quite literally consuming and turning the "magician's humble art" into an insidious version of corporate hell.

The character arcs of every film De Palma made during this period therefore reflects his own career trajectory. Fired from "Get To Know Your Rabbit", with his early satirical/counterculture films making little money and with his career almost over with, De Palma was pushed, like Welles, into making thrillers to keep working. These thrillers are typically dismissed as works of pastiche (they are), but there's always a critical mind, a satirist, operating just underneath. In this regard, something like "Black Dahlia", dismissed as "noir homage", should really be viewed through the lens of De Palma's more political films ("Redacted" etc), or even the more playful "Phantom of Paradise"; one's about the rot of the music industry, the other about the rot of the image factory.

Incidentally, the majority of "Obsession's" "incestuous subplot" was edited out (or cleverly masked using edits and fades) due to protests made by Bernard Herrmann and the film's producers. The result is the film's confused approach to the father and daughter romance at its core. Their incestuous relationship is not only barely acknowledged, but shamefully covered up.

8/10 – A lushly shot, macabre comedy. Worth one viewing.
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7/10
The plot thickens!
sol-kay18 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
***MAJOR SPOILERS*** With both his wife Elizabeth and 9 year old daughter Amy, Genevieve Bujold & Wanda Blackman, kidnapped and held for a $500,00.00 ransom a frantic Michael Courtland, Cliff Robertson, will do anything in his power to get them released even give into their kidnappers demands. Told instead by Police Inspector Brie, Stanley J. Reyes, to let his New Orleans police rescue them Michael allows a homing device put into the briefcase with the $500,00.00 of his real-estate development firms money to track them down. The plan goes terribly wrong with the kidnappers finding the device-which wasn't hidden at all but right in front of them when they opened the briefcase-and in being chased by the police they end up crashing into an gasoline delivery truck killing themselves together with Elizabeth & Amy.

It's now 16 years later-1975-and Michael still hasn't gotten over his wife and daughters deaths and has been under psychiatric care all that time. What Michael had also done is erect a massive monument to his wife and daughter that prevented any real-estate being developed into luxury condos on the Pontchartrain Estates outside the city of New Orleans that he and his good friend and business partner Robert Lasalla, John Lithgow, own. Going on a leisurely business trip to Florance Italy Lasalle talks the reclusive Michael into tagging along with him for some R&R, rest and recreation, that he so desperately needs.

As things turned out Michael's trip to Florence was anything but uneventful for him. It was there at a local 13th century cathedral, where in fact he met Elizabeth after the war, that he spotted young Sandra Portinari, also played by Miss. Bujold, who's the spiting image of his long deceased wife Elizabeth! With his mind already seriously damaged over Elizeabth death the sight of her look-alike twin Sandra made it short circuit! Like a man totally obsessed the glassed eyed and zombie-like Michael went after Sandra who's young enough to be his own daughter not leaving her along for a moment to the point where his friend Lassale almost wanted to have him committed before he ends up doing something that can land him behind bars.

This crazed obsession finally has a very confused and at the same time impressed, in Michael having the hots for her, Sandra give in to him and accept his proposal of marriage to her! Now back home in New Orleans and with the big wedding-with some 200 invited gusts-just days away Sandra is kidnapped and held hostage for the same amount of randsom-$500,000.00-that Michael's wife and daughter were some 16 years ago!

**SPOILERS*** By now it should have become very apparent to Michael that somethings not quite kosher, besides the shrimp gumbo and pork ribs he's been eating, in what's been going on since he first met Sandra back in Florance Italy. Right down to her being kidnapped under the very same conditions that his both wife and daughter were back in the spring o 1959! Thinking that this is his second chance for him to redeem himself in saving his dead wife and daughter Michael again gets his friend Lasalle to give him- from their Pontchartrain Estates investments-a half million dollars to get his fiancée Sandra freed. As things turned the results are the same as before in getting the ransom money to the kidnappers which they never got, or did they?, but the ending in what eventually happens to Sandra is a whole lot different!

Very predictable surprise ending that Michael should have easily figured, like almost everyone else watching did, out but didn't until the last fleeing seconds of the movie. This could be explained in that Michael was so traumatized and confused over the events that lead up to it that he ceased to use his God-given brain properly but gave into his obsession instead! Not just about Sandra in being the reincarnation of his late wife Elizabeth but what he later suspected she was planning for him all this time even before he met her in Florance!***MAJOR SPOILER*** The films perfect ending not only brought Michael and Sandra together but ironically prevented their marriage from both happening and being consummated! If in fact that happened Michael as fragile and emotionally unstable as he was before would have ended up going straight off the deep end! WIth him ending up either being put away for life in a local loony bin or putting a gun to his head and blowing his brains out!
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7/10
Possession obsession
Lejink27 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
An early, eerie, unsettling film from Brian De Palma, here just about getting his stylistic skills down-pat before his commercial breakthrough with "Carrie". I remember seeing this film not long after it was first released and it staying in my mind for a long time afterwards - this most recent viewing will have the same effect even if time does show up some of its deficiencies.

The film nods to Hitchcock's masterpiece "Vertigo" in many ways - Like James Stewart's Scotty Ferguson, Cliff Robertson here portrays a man so devastated by loss of a loved one that he goes to extremes to replace her with a living breathing substitute, expected to subsume her individuality and identity to his will. There are other Hitchcock motifs on board, like the utilisation of a prominent portrait of Robertson's wife and daughter, the insertion of an old church as a key location and of course, most obviously, Hitch's composer-in-residence Bernard Herrman's sweeping, almost suffocating orchestral score which seems to overlay nearly every scene. The famous Grace Kelly scissors scene from "Dial M For Murder" also gets a look-in when Robertson dispatches in self-defence his treacherous business partner-cum-friend John Lithgow.

De Palma's work here is highly stylised, with the whole possessing a dream-like quality, with smooth tracking shots the norm, culminating in the final revolving shots of Robertson and his reunited daughter at the conclusion as Herrman's music swells ever louder. The plotting is very complicated however and at times hard to swallow. The inference of Robertson's unwitting incestuous attraction to his grown-up daughter by the end is down-played but still disturbs plus it seems unlikely that bad guy Lithgow would go to such extremes to wrest control of the company away from long-time partner Robertson, especially over such a long period of time. But hey, I'm pretty sure that the plot to "Vertigo" has more than a few loose ends and unbelievable devices and while De Palma's film can't claim to be the cinematic great that "Vertigo" was, we have to remember the difference in the experience, knowledge and okay, skill of the two directors at the respective helms. Maybe De Palma very often was the Oasis to the Beatles if I can bring in a musical analogy but that shouldn't deny De Palma his due. At the very least he made near Hitchcock-class thrillers well into the 80's when the Master had long passed on

The acting is solid by all the players, especially Robertson in the key role as the grieving, driven widower unable to move on with his life until he has atoned for his earlier error in judgement. Perhaps John Lithgow is just a little too much cartoonish as the Southern gentleman baddie - he could almost be the template for JR Ewing from "Dallas", even down to the clothes.

This particular film was made only a few years after another haunting thriller of death loss and memory set in Italy, Nic Roeg's superior "Don't Look Now" with both films, like the best (or worst) of dreams, staying with you long after you've woken up.
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