When most people saw Possession (1981, 123 minutes) it was 45 minutes shorter than writer/director Andrzej Zulawski‘s cut. Either way it’s certain I’d still be just as bewildered and sleepy when the final credits rolled. But the movie was a hit with the art-house crowd at Cannes, where the lovely Isabelle Adjani won Best Actress for her role as Sam Niell‘s whacked-out wife. Andrzej says that upon seeing the completed film, Isabelle was so deeply disturbed by what she later called "psychological pornography," that she attempted suicide.
The movie: Mark (Niell) is trying to make his marriage work with Anna (Adjani), but she still wants him out of their Berlin home, as he’d put a real damper on her midnight petting parties with Heinrich (Heinz Bennent). The first 20 minutes, is basically shouting matches between Mark and Anna, with him whining about whether she still thinks he’s good in the sack. They also squabble over their little boy, Bob (Michael Hogben), who seems oblivious to the whole situation. Anna gets more and more bonkers, while Mark assumes she’s bedding Heinrich, but it turns out she isn’t with him either. Heiny is an uber-weenie who wants to touch everyone’s soul, the sort who reads books about auras and what not. Anna shows up at Mark’s periodically to scream at him and cut herself with knives. There’s also the matter of Helen, Anna’s good-girl doppelganger, who stops by to pick up the pieces after Anna’s manic outbursts. After a while, Mark figures maybe something’s up, so he hires a private eye to follow her around and find out who she’s REALLY shacking up with. The guy turns out to be the WORST detective in history, as he might as well ride on her shoulders when he’s supposed to be covertly tailing her. He eventually discovers where she’s been hid out, and that’s when the whole movie slams on the emergency brake and speeds off in a completely different direction, which is great if you’re into kinky slime-monster nookie, but bad if you’re into interminable domestic tirades … or even WORSE if you’re just trying to wade through the whole ridiculous mess like myself.
Notables: Two breasts. Eight corpses. One beast. Dress sniffing. Restaurant trashing. Snorkeling yard monster. Bitch slapping. Exploding apartment. Electric carving knife to the neck and arm. Puking. Diddling. Multiple exploding cars. One dead dog. Motorcycle wipeout. Fridge stocked with body parts.
Quotables: Helen the nekkid school teacher in Mark’s bed says, "You don’t have to make love to me." Mark pleads with Anna, "If I threw myself at your feet and yelped, would you still walk over me?!" Slime-ball guru, Heinrich, whines, "It’s going to take a long time to restore my harmony."
Time codes: Things start to get weird (29:00). Anna loses her mind and her lunch in a subway tunnel (1:14:40). A close-up look at the creature created by Carlo Rambaldi who did The Hand the same year, and also worked on E.T. and Alien (1:23:15). Anna diddles her creepazoid beau (1:46:50).
Final thought: An exhausting and ultimately unrewarding experience.