“Wouldn’t you rather have a letter, however imperfect, than a plate of cucumber sandwiches?” writes Christabel LaMotte to her soon-to-be-lover Randolph Henry Ash. Possession’s tale of passionate Victorians unfolds piece by piece as two modern-day academics uncover clues to the hitherto unknown affair.
I’ve always been a fan of movies that slip back and forth between time streams because one of my fantasies is to open a door to somewhere/somewhen other than my current reality. I once dreamt I could travel through time by spinning around and still remember watching streets dissolve from cobblestone to brick beneath my feet. A film like Possession (2002), which segues between modern London’s doubledecker buses and Victorian tea parties, is right up my alley.
LaMotte to Ash: “I cannot let you burn me up, nor can I resist you. No mere human can stand in a fire and not be consumed.”
A poem by Ash: “They say that women change. ‘Tis so, but you are ever-constant in your changefulness. Like that still thread of falling river, one from source to last embrace, in the still pool ever-renewed and ever-moving on…”
Nothing straight-laced about these two Victorians.
Inevitably, Gwyneth Paltrow and Aaron Eckhart generate a lot less heat as Maud and Roland in their 20th century partnership, but are fun to watch as they eagerly follow a trail of letters to the final key to unlock the past.
However, we—the viewers—still learn one addional secret that Paltrow and Eckhart never uncover.
Part mystery, part romance, Possession is all a pleasure to watch.
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