Sinister Screens

Possession (1981) ★★★★




A young woman left her family for an unspecified reason. The husband determines to find out the truth and starts following his wife. At first, he suspects that a man is involved. But gradually, he finds out more and more strange behaviors and bizarre incidents that indicate something more than a possessed love affair.


Possession is an extraordinary film. I still run across reviews that state the acting is atrocious, pointing to overacting. But these reviewers miss the point. The way Isabelle Adjani moves or speaks, the way Sam Neill carries himself, or especially Heinz Bennent (as Heinrich) being flamboyant and out there—these are essential to make this movie come together.

Director Andrzej Żuławski employs a distinctive visual style, characterized by frenetic camerawork, expressionistic lighting, and surreal imagery. This pairs nicely with the frenetic way the characters come across. Then the film’s cinematography creates a sense of disorientation and unease, mirroring the psychological turmoil experienced by the characters.

Possession earns its cult classic status as it brilliantly explores the destructive nature of obsession and the lengths people will go to in order to fulfill their desires. Even if it means sacrificing their own sanity. The film also examines the complexities of human relationships, particularly the darker aspects of love and intimacy.

Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)

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