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Obsession
IMDB Rating: 6.8/10 from 5,500 votes
Release: 13 September 1976 (Sweden) /

Obsession

Genre: Drama, Mystery, Romance, Thriller
Director: Brian De Palma,
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: New Orleans businessman Michael Courtland's life is shattered when his wife and daughter are tragically killed in a botched kidnap rescue attempt. Many years later whilst visiting Italy he meets and falls in in love with Sandra Portinari, who bears a striking resemblance to his wife. Written by Col Needham <col@imdb.com>

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Critic Reviews

Obsession has been somewhat overshadowed by some of director Brian De Palma's other Hitchcock-influenced suspense thrillers like Dressed to Kill and Body Double. This is a shame,because Obsession is one of his very best. It's a very slow moving film,and requires total immersion in it's suffocating atmosphere. And it's certainly NOT simply a rip off of Vertigo.

What De Palma does is take the basic idea of Hitchcock's film-a man losing a woman and than encountering her 'double'and than spin a very different story off it. In fact,De Palma's 1984 film Body Double copies a lot more of Vertigo! Some parts of Obsession seem closer to Rebecca,and there are some obvious references {scissors from Dial M For Murder,for example}. However,Obsession is also entirely it's own film. It has an atmosphere and feel all it's own.

Although there are suspenseful bits in the film,and despite a very emphatic but appropriate score by Bernard Herrmann which in it's own way also tells the story,Obsession is a film of restraint,it's characters seeming to move in a dream,making Cliff Robertson's undoubtedly bland portrayal of the hero almost appropriate. There is a slow,balletic grace to the film. De Palma's signature show off moments are often less flashy but amongst his most brilliant,check out the scene with Robertson as he watches the creation of a mausoleum for his dead wife,and see if you notice the beautifully subtle transition to 18 years later. Some of the scenes of the heroine {a simply delightful Genevieve Bujold}in Robertson's house are extremely eerie and contain a very slow but effective 360 degree camera spin,while the flashback scenes near the end are very cleverly done-notice the way Bujold's character as an adult is put into the flashbacks when she was actually a child.

More than any other De Palma film,this has moments of pure beauty,often when film and score combine {one could write a whole review of the score itself}. One example is the scene when Robertson enters the church where he first met his wife. Vilmos Zsigmond's gorgeous photography and the quiet organ and string piece of music used create such a strong,almost ghostly atmosphere,and than Robertson sees Bujold,and she turns round in slow motion while the score's often used wordless choir plays. Beautiful.

The film's Big Twist is probably guessable,and any potentially questionable {you might consider the 'twist' in poor taste} elements are not really answered at the end. However,Obsession is a much more compassionate film than Vertigo and indeed most of De Palma's other films,which,while often brilliant pieces of cinema tend to treat it's characters like pawns to move to the next great set piece. Obsession is a very rewarding and satisfying experience it you relax and let it take over you.

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