Possession | Chicago Reader

Possession

Andrzej Zulawski's 1981 masterpiece opens with the messy separation of a middle-class couple (Sam Neill, Isabelle Adjani), then goes on to imagine various catastrophic breakdowns—of interpersonal relationships, social order, and ultimately narrative logic itself. The film can be hilarious one moment and terrifying the next, and Zulawski's roving camera only heightens the sense of unpredictability. Few movies convey so viscerally what it's like to go mad: when this takes an unexpected turn into supernatural horror, the development feels inevitable, as though the characters had been bracing themselves for it all along. 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. Performed in English and shot in Berlin by an international crew, this also conveys a sense of displacement that's always been crucial to Zulawski's work.

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