There are subtle films, there are unsubtle films and then there's 'Possession (1981)', a picture that cranks everything up to eleven and doesn't even think about adjusting the dials until its end credits have rolled. It's a very violent movie, and I'm not just talking about violence in the traditional sense. Every movement feels like a convulsion, every reaction an explosion, every interaction a fight, every line of dialogue a visceral scream. Of course, there are also moments of more conventional conflict, eruptions of painful brutality that hit like a truck, but the piece is very aggressive for its entire duration. It's nihilistic, but not unreasonably nasty. Its characters tear themselves apart from the inside as they fruitlessly scramble to understand their seemingly world-shattering situation. The performances are overwrought yet vigorous, some of the most intense I've ever seen on screen. They walk the line between scary and silly, ultimately emerging as rather uncanny. As such, they're rather unsettling. They're over-the-top without being obnoxious, forceful without being foolish, pretty much pitch-perfect for what the movie tries to achieve. Everything is just a bit off, representative of a kind of unreality that roots the story in a world adjacent to our own, recognisable yet alien. The tone is effectively bizarre, as is the film in general. There's nothing quite like it, to be honest. It certainly has a distinct effect. The actual plot is strangely discreet considering how brazenly unsubtle the overall experience is. The movie is, at its core, a metaphor for divorce. The specifics of how this metaphor relates to the beat-for-beat plot are almost irrelevant. In a way, the film's subtext is its substance. Without its allegorical underpinning, I suppose it doesn't really hold any weight. This is almost the opposite of how most movies with an allegorical element operate, as they tend to present an air-tight straightforward story that can also be interpreted in a few different ways. Here, those interpretations are pretty much the only thing that matter. Most of the movie is a literal manifestation of the metaphors it represents; there's almost no other way to interpret its events. Perhaps that could be frustrating to some, especially because its in-the-moment narrative is purposefully difficult to parse. Yet, it's a picture that you're meant to feel more than understand. It makes sure that you feel every visceral moment. In that sense, it's a total success. It's oddly engrossing, an energetic and bracing experience that takes no prisoners. It's bizarrely entertaining in its own way. It's unlike anything I've ever seen and all the better for it. 7/10.