6.4/10
12,330
173 user 97 critic

Possession (2002)

PG-13 | | Drama, Mystery, Romance | 30 August 2002 (USA)
Trailer
1:47 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $3.99 (SD) on Prime Video

ON DISC
A pair of literary sleuths unearth the amorous secret of two Victorian poets only to find themselves falling under a passionate spell.

Director:

Neil LaBute

Writers:

A.S. Byatt (novel), David Henry Hwang (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
1 nomination. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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
Trevor Eve ... Cropper
Tom Hickey Tom Hickey ... Blackadder
Georgia Mackenzie ... Paola
Tom Hollander ... Euan
Graham Crowden ... Sir George
Anna Massey ... Lady Bailey
Craig Crosbie Craig Crosbie ... Hildebrand
Christopher Good ... Crabb-Robinson
Edit

Storyline

Roland Michell is an American scholar trying to make it in the difficult world of British Academia. He has yet to break out from under his mentor's shadow until he finds a pair of love letters that once belonged to one of his idols, a famous Victorian poet. Michell, after some sleuthing, narrows down the suspects to a woman not his wife, another well known Victorian poet. Roland enlists the aid of a Dr. Maud Bailey, an expert on the life of the woman in question. Together they piece together the story of a forbidden love affair, and discover one of their own. They also find themselves in a battle to hold on to their discovery before it falls into the hands of their rival, Fergus Wolfe. Written by C.D.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The past will connect them. The passion will possess them.

Genres:

Drama | Mystery | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for sexuality and some thematic elements | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA | UK

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

30 August 2002 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Posesión See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$25,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,575,214, 18 August 2002, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$10,103,647, 13 October 2002
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Aaron Eckhart enters the movie riding on the rear platform of a bus. The vehicle in question is RM 3, the third example ever built, and one of the prototypes, of London's most iconic red bus, the Routemaster. See more »

Goofs

Bailey's driving license has 'Miss Maud' on the line for forenames. UK driving licenses don't have titles or Mr/Mrs/Miss on there. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Randolph Ash: They say that women change. 'Tis so, but you are ever-constant in your changefulness. Like that still thread of falling river, one from source to last embrace, in the still pool ever-renewed and ever-moving on, from first to last, a myriad water-drops.
See more »

Connections

References The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981) See more »

Soundtracks

Possesso
Performed by Ramón Vargas
Conducted by Gabriel Yared
Music by Gabriel Yared
Original lyrics by Peter Gosling
Italian translation: Michela Antonello
Orchestra leader: Cathy Thompson
Produced by Gabriel Yared and Graham Walker
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

unusual and intriguing romantic drama
24 August 2002 | by Buddy-51See all my reviews

`Possession' has all the intricacy, mystery and suspense of a classic piece of detective fiction. What sets this film apart, however, is that the object of the mystery does not involve a dead body, a piece of stolen treasure or a missing person, but rather the hitherto secret love affair between two well-known 19th Century English poets. The clues come in the form of journal entries, love letters and snippets of enigmatic poetry that, when pieced together, afford a glimpse into the inner yearnings of these two young, but essentially unrequited lovers.

As a narrative, `Possession' runs on two parallel tracks, one set in modern times (that's where the detective story aspect comes in) and the other set in 1859, as we learn the details of the romance that took place between the writers. In the contemporary plot strand, Aaron Eckhart stars as Roland Michell, a handsome young American research assistant who has come to England to study the work of famed poet Randolph Henry Ash, a writer with a certain misogynistic strain who nevertheless enjoys the rather unique reputation among poets of having been utterly faithful to his wife. As the story begins, Ash has become something of a cause celebre within British literary circles because the year 2000 happens to mark the centenary of the discovery of his work. While poring over a first edition copy of one of Ash's volumes, Roland stumbles across some original letters of Ash's that hint at the possibility that Ash, contrary to the public impression of his marital fidelity, may actually have had an affair with another famed poet of the time, a Miss Christabel La Motte, a woman believed by her biographers to have been a lesbian. Confronted with this startling, revolutionary and, perhaps, priceless piece of information, Roland sets out to unravel the mystery, accompanied by Maud Bailey (Gwyneth Paltrow), an expert on the life and work of Miss LaMotte (and a distant descendant of that famed poet in the bargain).

`Possession' earns points automatically simply by providing us with a unique storyline and a fascinating glimpse into a world we have rarely if ever seen portrayed on screen - the world of literary investigation. We are fascinated by all the behind-the-scene details showing not merely the investigative footwork that goes into unearthing the biographical details of a writer's life, but also the sometimes-cutthroat nature that propels rival investigators to both make and publish their discoveries, even if that means utilizing tactics that can be described as, at best, unethical, and, at worst, illegal.

But `Possession' offers more than just that. It also manages to provide not merely one, but two complex romances occurring at the same time (though a full century apart in the context of the story). Randolph and Christabel are both products - and victims - of their Victorian Era morality, yet at the same time, their struggles are universal in nature and neatly correspond to those experienced by Roland and Maud, who literally follow in the footsteps of the earlier couple. As our modern day investigators travel the same route through England that Randolph and Christabel took a century previous, Roland and Maud reveal much about their own inability to make commitments in the face of possible true love. As they tentatively grope towards one another, then back away out of fear of pain and rejection, Roland and Maud define, in many ways, the métier of modern romantic coupling. Yet, we discover, through Randolph and Christabel, that life in the past really wasn't much different from what it is today.

Based on the novel by A.S. Byatt, the David Henry Hwang/Laura Jones/Neil LaBute screenplay provides highly charged scenes between our two romantic couples, particular those involving Roland and Maud. The dialogue in these encounters is often sharp, intelligent, incisive. The romantic moments between Raymond and Christabel have a slightly more conventional feel to them, but they, too, often ring true in a way that is both deeply moving and strangely exciting. Director LaBute has drawn wonderful performances out of his quartet of first-rate actors. Aaron Eckhart as Roland and Jennifer Ehle as Christabel are particularly effective in their roles.

It's refreshing to see a romantic drama that manages to generate some actual chemistry between its two on-screen lovers. In the case of `Possession,' our pleasure is thereby doubled, since the film accomplishes this with not merely one couple but two. `Possession' may not provide the blood, gore, corpses and hair-raising thrills one usually associates with detective fiction, but its devotion to the drama found in words, poetry, language and romance makes for no less an engrossing experience.


65 of 72 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 173 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Popular Action and Adventure Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular action and adventure titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed