A Private War
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All Critics (19)
| Top Critics (2)
| Fresh (16)
| Rotten (3)
Adjani won the best actress prize at Cannes for her dual performance (as an unfaithful wife and her angelic doppelganger), but the whole cast is astonishing, exorcising painful feelings with an intensity that rivals that of the filmmaking.
That the film is much more than a gawk-at-it freak show is testament to Zulawski's talent for making even the most exaggerated behavior resonate with pointed and potent emotion.
[PODCAST] "Possession" holds the watermark for the most bizarre cinematic experience you will ever have. No other film begins to approach the madness of romantic obsession and political oppression that this film does.
Zulawski's grand and shivery art-therapy hallucination, a burlesque farrago of domestic dramas played close and fast in a distinctively Polish register
A film about a woman who fucks an octopus.
The film could be seen as a metaphor for women's liberation, the battle between the sexes, idealization of one's lover, faith vs. fate and/or a political statement...very effective as straight up, very stylish horror.
When it comes to the sheer artistry of filmmaking, it's an astounding, jaw-dropping feat of furious beauty.
This delirious psychodrama defies classification and will polarize viewers as thoroughly as it did 30 years ago.
In much the same way that Possession blurs and blends genres, it also inextricably entangles the personal and the political.
Uncompromising demented cult oddity.
really Possession is like nothing else - an uncompromising and idiosyncratic vision of the divisions that exist around, between and within us all.
Its failures would be almost invisible if its successes weren't so excellent.
Isabelle Adjani gives this everything she's got in a performance of unbridled commitment but that doesn't make it enjoyable nor entertaining.
Ever had the top of your skull removed while an overweight man repeatedly stabbed your cerebral cortex with a crescent wrench? No you say? Well then grab the family, kick those feet up on the ottoman, and brace yourself for some masochistic brain torture. Director Andrzej ZulawskiÃ¢'s frenzied nightmare regarding a deteriorating marriage is an absurd carnival of agony. One that can best be described as a violent hallucination caught on film.
When a man sets out to understand the reasons for his wife's infidelity, he ends up finding a lot more than he bargained for. And I mean a lot more. Even if I told you more about the plot, the film would not be spoiled. It truly needs to be seen to be believed. Should you choose to subject yourself to it.
When I read that Zulawski wrote the screenplay while in the midst of a messy divorce, I was not the least bit surprised. Much like David Cronenberg's The Brood, there is a palpable pain that permeates this lurid tale. Why do we inflict such excruciating pain on the ones we claim to love? This is just one of the many questions the film brings to the surface. It joins the ranks of other equally important questions such as Ã¢what in the world is with that subway scene?Ã¢ and Ã¢did I just see a tentacle?Ã¢Â�
This bizarre story is accompanied by wild camera work. Zulawski employs dizzying long takes, crazed hand-held camerawork, and frenetic editing. Making the experience all the more eccentric. Also, Sam Neill works his way through the material with the same ease and grace as a middle school student reading King Lear out loud for the first time. (One that desperately wants to impress the teacher and cares little for subtlety) I like to pretend that seconds before shooting a scene, Neill was told that his family would be slaughtered if he didn't overact. It made his performance easier to understand.
At one point in the film, Neill's wife Anna states that Goodness is some kind of reflection upon evil. Much like the film itself, I am not quite sure what it means. Hell I don't even know if Zulawski knows what it means exactly. There are myriad ways to read this film and should I find myself able to muster up the courage to watch it again, id love to better understand what Zulawski is trying to say here. Until then, i'll just enjoy the night terrors that are sure to come as a result of watching Possession.
Funny, I don't remember him being so bad in Omen III: The Final Conflict, but having watched John Carpenter's In the Mouth of Madness and Andrzej Zulawski's Possession in recent succession, I'm now of the firm opinion that Sam Neill should be forcibly restrained from making any more horror movies; they bring out the hammy worst in the man. Nevertheless, even Neill is upstaged here by the extraordinary supporting performance - and I don't intend that as a compliment - of Heinz Bennent, quite the most entertaining piece of scenery-chewing I have witnessed in a good long while. This wasn't too bad a movie, actually: the atmosphere is nicely oppressive, Isabelle Adjani certainly throws herself into her role and the restless camerawork is marvellous throughout. What the film lacks, however, is a little subtlety and a lot of control; it's shrill and hysterical from beginning to end, often comically so. It's very apt that Possession is frequently compared to David Cronenberg's The Brood - and there are, indeed, similarities - because Cronenberg immediately springs to mind when one considers which other director might have been able to make a better movie out of this; Polanski is another.
No one can deny that this film is quite bold and unpredictable in all its mind-blowing weirdness, but Zulawski really fails in his attempt to confer a serious, Bergmanian meaning to a story that clearly emulates the narrative style of Polanski and Cronenberg.
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