Search - Possession on DVD

Actors: Gwyneth Paltrow, Aaron Eckhart, Jeremy Northam, Jennifer Ehle, Lena Headey
Director: Neil LaBute
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
PG-13     2003     1hr 42min

An academic researcher discovers some important letters written by a famous Victorian poet, and begins to investigate the story behind them. Genre: Feature Film-Drama Rating: PG13 Release Date: 6-JAN-2004 Media Type: DVD


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Movie Details

Actors: Gwyneth Paltrow, Aaron Eckhart, Jeremy Northam, Jennifer Ehle, Lena Headey
Director: Neil LaBute
Creators: Neil LaBute, Barry Levinson, David Barron, Guy Tannahill, A.S. Byatt, David Henry Hwang, Laura Jones
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Love & Romance, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Universal Studios
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 02/11/2003
Original Release Date: 01/01/2002
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2002
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 42min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Languages: English, French
Subtitles: English, Spanish
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Member Movie Reviews

Nina E.
Reviewed on 7/1/2011...
I love this movie. I can watch it over and over and I've never grown tired of it. This has a great cast of actors. This is a literary piece, a love story, a mystery full of intrigue and style. You'll travel back in time to beautiful places, you'll brush close to nobility. The movie is modern at the same time as it takes you back in time in England. There is excellent acting, a variety of well developed characters. You will laugh, cry and feel your sense of contentment satisfied. A great movie.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

Victorian Romance leads to Modern Connection
Rebecca Johnson | Washington State | 04/16/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

""No mere human can stand in a fire and not be consumed."

While doing research in the British Museum, Roland Michell (Aaron Eckhart) discovers letters written by Randolph Ash who had an affair with a lesser-known poetess, Christabel LaMotte.

Maud Bailey (Gwyneth Paltrow) knows Christabel's poems by heart and Randolph seeks her out as an expert to help him figure out why a "chaste spinster" and the "married Randolph Ash" never revealed their love to the world. He has one clue, a love letter.

Christabel and Randolph's love is based on a common love of literature and intellectual discussions, poetry and passion. They are like minds that somehow connected and together they find immense happiness despite their circumstances. Although they fight their attraction to one another, they eventually create a world of turmoil and tragedy.

Gwyneth and Aaron have a subtle chemistry but it is not "quite" the mingling of spirits that occurs with Christabel (Jennifer Ehle) and Randolph (Jeremy Northam) and yet there are enough sparks to keep them interested.

"I want to see if there is an us in you and me."

Is passion worth the turmoil and upheaval? Is this the tangle most people want? While the story of the poets is only a memory, Maud and Roland are just starting their journey and are fortunately single when they meet.

Maud and Roland lurk about in divine libraries searching for clues and discover old letters and journals. They are intoxicated by the thought that they can actually solve this mystery. They must conceal their true purpose while searching for clues.

They spend time reading the letters to each other, which is the most romantic "modern" part of this movie. The Victorian "flash backs" are much more entertaining on all levels.

The Victorian romance in this movie is wonderful, but the modern romance is much more subtle. Yet, who would not want to have a man read you poetry in bed?

Adapted from A.S. Byatt's novel by the same name. The movie is not the passionate fire the name suggests. However, this movie will possess you intellectually from start to finish.

Thoughtful Romance with an element of mystery.

~The Rebecca Review"
No mere human can stand in a fire and not be consumed
E. A Solinas | MD USA | 09/13/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Possession" is one of the most romantic movies I have ever seen, alongside Tom Tykwer's "Heaven." A double-edged tale of love, passion, and words that can entice or betray, this is one of the few masterful films that actually brought tears to my eyes. Wonderful acting, beautiful direction, and one of the most amazing love stories ever seen in a movie.Roland Michell (Aaron Eckhart), a brash young American scholar, is studying an old book of the famed poet William Randolph Ash when he encounters an old love letter. After some digging, he theorizes that it was addressed to the more obscure poet Christabel LaMonte -- but both poets were either married or in a long-term relationship. If he's right, it would rock the literary world. He seeks the help of Maud Bailey, a cold feminist scholar who has a particular fondness for Christabel's work. Maud tries to bring him down to earth by explaining that Christabel was a lesbian, but Roland is undaunted.They travel to Christabel's old home and unearth a cache of letters between Ash and Christabel, hidden away by her lover. It tells of a love affair that was doomed from the start: The correspondence first inspired respect, then friendship, then a burning love. Finally, Ash (Jeremy Northam) and Christabel (Jennifer Ehle) escape to the countryside for a few weeks alone. Those few weeks will mar the rest of their lives...Like all adaptations, "Possession" strays a bit from its original work (Roland is made American rather than English, many supporting characters are omitted). But the spirit and tone of the story are close to the book. The core of the story is words. Words that are hidden and words that reveal, words that could change a person's life or perceptions -- depending on whether they are read by the one they are intended for. Even the name of a little child can change a man's life, and his perception of the woman he loves.But more than that, it's an illustration of love in its different forms: There is the passion of the soulmates, Ash and Christabel; and there is the gradual warming and closeness between Maud and Roland. As Randolph Ash says, "There are many kinds of love." Even though the modern love story is okay by movie standards, it's pale and insubstantial compared to the Victorian love story. (Maybe this is because Maud and Roland have the POSSIBILITY of a deep attachment, whereas Ash and Christabel have full-fledged, undeniable feelings). This film isn't afraid to show love in all its glory and beauty, its pain and intensity.The direction is beautiful and stately, with the shots of waterfalls and majestic old houses. And Neil LaBute is amazing at choreographing little hints of tension and attraction. He handles the shifting from one era to another expertly; one wonderful scene pans away from Maud and Roland, to rest on Christabel.Aaron Eckhart does a solid job as Roland; he's pretty charming and twinkly-eyed, but not outstanding. Gwyneth Paltrow has a little trouble making Maud sympathetic, but she manages it (sort of). It's Jeremy Northam and Jennifer Ehle who steal the show. They radiate emotion, so much so that merely glancing at one another has significance and substance. Lena Heady and Holly Aird also give moving, if brief, performances as Blanche Glover (Christabel's ex-lover) and Ellen Ash (Ash's wife).This is a movie for lovers and true romantics, those who can appreciate the beauty of the love story. While not perfect, it's a haunting and beautiful story, one of the most moving romantic movies I've ever seen. Highly recommended."
The past will connect them. The passion will possess them.
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 04/30/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

""Possession" is one of those movies where as soon as it is over you want to go out and read the novel upon which it is based the better to be able to enjoy the full tapestry of the story. Reading A. S. Byatt's 1990 Booker Prize-winning novel would also allow you to better appreciate the adaptation by David Henry Hwang, Laura Jones and director Neil LaBute, which offers some interesting and creative approaches, both in terms of the story and how it is portrayed cinematically.The story is essentially a romantic mystery. American Roland Michell (Aaron Eckhart) is working as an assistant to a literature professor in London doing research on Randolph Henry Ash (Jeremy Northam), a poet Laureate during the reign of Queen Victoria. Roland discovers some letters from Ash that suggest the poet, a paragon of devotion with regards to his wife, had a romantic relationship with Christabel LaMotte (Jennifer Ehle), a minor poet and apparent lesbian, at least according to the historical record that exists. Roland enlists Maud Bailey (Gwyneth Paltrow), a English scholar who studies LaMotte, and the two begin their journey as literary detectives.Of course a romantic relationship will develop between Roland and Maud as they are caught up in revealing the past of Randolph and Christabel. However, I have to admit that I was much more interested in the detective work unlocking the secrets of the lovers from the past than the slowly developing romance between the two scholars. Actually, I was much more interested in the romance of the two lovers in the past rather than in the present. This is not only because my academic interests are extremely sympathetic with unraveling the meaning of ancient texts, but also because the two poets have more hurdles to overcome in the romance department. After all, Eckhart and Paltrow are so good looking that their physical union is no more in doubt than their intellectual coming together. This film might actually have benefited from having less better looking leds in terms of this particular story.LaBute gets points for the rather seamless way that he shifts back and forth between the past and the present as letters and locations allow us to slip back and forth between the two. I also have a real affection for films that still do the old trick of having stage hands move things around so that a total transformation is achieved on a set within a single panning shot back and forth. But what makes "Possession" so memorable is the powerful final scene and the haunting final shot, which is where this 2002 film achives its own sense of the poetic.I am hard pressed to explain why I am only giving this film four stars given how much I like it; my best guess is because the film is only 102 minutes long and because this is a literary adaptation I cannot help but think this is the abridged version. There are a few deleted scenes available on the DVD, but they do not indicate anything substantial missing from the film. I also wanted to lose myself more in the story of Randolph and Christabel, and the Victorian world in which they lived. I really liked this film, but what I really wanted was to love it."