POSSESSION (THROUGH A WOMAN DARKLY)

   

The following article was published in N-SPHERE May 2010 issue.

 

Andrej Zulawsky’s Possession is everything one may want from a love–story or everything one may not want from it, depending on each viewer. It is deliciously unrestrained, psychotic, cruel and barbaric, but, amusingly, it has little to do with the afternoon–meal–lovestory–framework, which is why some may dismiss it, also pointless, depressing, implausible, amateurish even. And, in a certain context, they may be right. However, that context has nothing to do with the movie or its approach. It has something to do with what one may expect some characters or stories to be. We expect breakups to be a certain way because that’s how we saw them in the movies we love, that’s how we like to remember our own ones, or that’s how our friends described theirs (again, the convenience issue). Well, Possession isn’t convenient. It has too little to do with what we were indulged to believe or outburst, but, amusingly, shares more common ground than we expect in relation to the human nature.

Conventional wisdom may state that what we do is important, not what we think. So, if someone thinks of stealing, but ultimately does not do it, that person is not a thief and so forth. Well, this is true when it comes to society, but it is a delusion when it comes to the self, in which case there is no practical difference between a thief outside and a thief inside, since the thief inside may ultimately take control if the individual outside lets his guard down or has a moment of crisis.

In relationships or in breakups we may be gentle or at least non violent on the outside, but what about on the inside? Possession tears the curtain apart. There is no outside in this film, at least not one that we can feel familiar in, there are no masks there and no friends to help us. There is the anger, the silent denial, the bargaining, the despair, there is an entire edifice falling apart piece by piece. And even the slightest comfortable thought is carried away: we can’t even suspect betrayal – not the one we like to talk about – and, no matter how in–your–face it seems, it is something else.

And what about the imagined thief disguised in Romeo? Most of those intimate relationships rely on projection. We project our own vision, our own ideals into the one we think we love as if he/she is a blank screen and everything is fine as long as we can project undisturbed. The irony is that this process of projection is painted in human colors, even if – at least at its heart – it is a mechanical process. We see our partner as an ideal and we have to take the big fall when we realize how far off we were. Some may not know how to take it, so they back away to find comfort somewhere else – like nomads. Some may accept it out of fear, complacency or convenience and only a few are really willing to get to the bottom of it.

In this case, the movie is backing away, on the one hand into a frail illusion and on the other into a demanding process of creation, fleshing out our own ideal. But if we are to think about it, it is the dreamer who needs the dream, not the other way around.

Possession deals with each of those aspects in a brutal and uncompromising manner. It has the intensity of a love–story and enough heart to work for those with the nose for this kind of stuff, but also has enough madness to alienate everyone else. It is a personal film – for better or for worse – meaning that it has a personal film’s intensity and approach and a personal film’s share of flaws as well. However, it avoids, even here, conveniences.

Don’t try to make sense of it, relationships barely make sense beyond certain facts, just follow it, its music and moments of madness, put them all together and observe the result.

That’s it for tonight. Misty dreams, headless children!

Movie still: Possession

by Shade

Full article here.