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The first half is perhaps the most intense display of directing and acting I've ever seen. Adjani and Neill firmly set the benchmark for emotional anguish among dysfunctional couples! The second half of the movie is where things starts becoming bizarre as Adjani's character knocks down the door to la-la land and Sam Neill starts grinning and scheming as if he is mixing up his act with that of his other 1981 performance in The Omen III. Sprincle on some special effects and one has to ask - what the fuck is going on? - great fun nonetheless and somewhat interpretable until the floating dead dog scene. After that it was anyone's guess as to what was going on. Jolly good package, but perhaps it went too far.
Sam Neill and Isabele Adjani deserve some sort of Medal of Bravery for their work here (ESPECIALLY Adjani).
Quite possibly my favorite film and one that never fails to fascinate me no matter how many times I rewatch it (though I sometimes have to work up the nerve to put it in). It's rare for a single film to try so many different things all at once and I think it loses a lot of the audience because of its unique combination of extremist elements: high-strung intensity, an east-euro paranoid vibe, body-horror surrealism, oblique symbolism, eerie frenetic camerawork and some of the most overwrought (but brilliant and fully-committed) performances. I loved this film long before I understood it, so I can only speculate on how one could convince the unbelievers to stick with it.
I've seen most of Zulawski's other works and while they are often intriguing, nothing quite approaches his masterpiece.
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In 6 official lists
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This movie ranks #76 in BFI's 100 European Horror Films
This movie ranks #81 in iCheckMovies's Most Favorited
This movie ranks #100 in TSZDT's The 1,000 Greatest Horror Films
This movie ranks #252 in 366 Weird Movies
This movie ranks #385 in Sight & Sound's The Greatest Films of All Time
This movie ranks #602 in TSPDT's 1,000 Greatest Films