6.4/10
12,283
173 user 97 critic

Possession (2002)

PG-13 | | Drama, Mystery, Romance | 30 August 2002 (USA)
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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 »

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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
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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 »
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Details

Country:

USA | UK

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

30 August 2002 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Posesión See more »

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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

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Feature film debut of Henry Ian Cusick. See more »

Goofs

During the love scene between Christabel and Ash, the close up shows her ears are double pierced. Victorian women could have pierced ears but would not have had double piercings. 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.
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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
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User Reviews

 
Airport-Novel of a Movie
30 September 2006 | by Flagrant-BaronessaSee all my reviews

It needs to be said; this is not a very good film, but it does keep up the appearance of one fairly well, carrying a facade of mystery, romance and great literature. The director navigates two parallel story lines – one taking place between two secret lovers in the mid-1800s and one taking place between two soon-to-be-lovers in the 21st century – the latter couple finding their romance as they are unlocking the lovestory of the former... through letters. The bad news is that the director only put his heart into one of the story lines, namely the costume one, and as a result, the modern day lovestory between Gwyneth Paltrow and Aaron Eckhart as literary sleuths suffers greatly. Nevertheless, Possession makes for an OK diversion into quasi-romance.

Starting in the positive end then, period-junkies Jeremy Northam and Jennifer Ehle are breathtaking to watch as poets during the Richmond period in England. They are two people who cannot be together, for one has chosen a wife and the other has chosen a life of 'shared solitude' (which is a euphemism for a lesbian relationship). Yet they begin a correspondence of love letters, which blossoms into a fully-fletched romance, embroidered in intrigue and quiet passion. Ehle's beautiful, reassuring smiles conveying the latter. At times their story is achingly romantic, so I think this aspect is very nicely tended to in the film. The graceful words in their letters even invests the film in a lyrical flow of sorts.

For our modern day story, Gwyneth Paltrow plays the icy literary expert Maud Bailey, who is also a descendant of Ehle's character, but clearly lacking in her passion. The film offers no satisfying explanation as to why the chilly Maud suddenly warms up and falls for Roland (Eckhart), other than they they are researching the lost letters together. I love Eckhart, but truly believe he is all wrong for this part. He ends up clumsy and flat and underdeveloped in the film (the novel probably offered more insight into his character, I don't know) and again, Maud's attraction to him seems far-fetched. I really can't stress how bad their storyline is; no description will do it justice.

Otherwise, Possession does a fair job of melting themes of love and love lost as it progresses and it occasionally manages thrilling. In order to get events unfolding, Maud and Roland unlock the mystery of the ancient lovestory by conveniently appearing clues, hidden hatches and notes. It's into Da Vinci Code territory with this approach to plot, but it works to a point. There is also seamless, fluent intercutting of the two parallel stories in the editing process. Neither a very solid nor very interesting template here, but "Possession" does make for a fine pastime.

6 out of 10


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