Release: 27th May 1981 (France)
If I gave 5 stars to a film obscured in an orgy of milk, demonic cum and vomit, you might think I was mad. However, there is nothing quite like Andrzej Zulawski’s Possession, it has everything from sexual mutilations to wild psychotic descents – it is truly surreal, bizarre and wonderful.
Possession is a tricky film to bed within any one genre; its primary undertones give it an art-house appeal. However, suspense, drama, mystery and horror are all at work here to create a distressingly powerful, tragic and grisly mashed-up movie. This may all sound a tad overwhelming, it is, but Zulawski’s direction is masterful in fitting all these rudiments into one package. He plays around with striking set pieces and tight spaces giving the film a claustrophobic component, making it all the more terrifying. The further complement the act of insanity, legendary French cinematographer, Bruno Nuytten, meets Zulawski’s vision with gorgeously long sweeping camera shots and 360-degree encircling shots of the deranged characters.
The plot concerns the breakdown of a couples marriage into hysteric arguments and domestic, masochistic melodrama. The husband (San Neil – you’ll remember him from Jurassic Park) discovers that his wife, Anne (Isabelle Adjani), is having an affair with an offbeat and laid-back man, Heinrich (Heinz Bennett). Loyalties are thrown out the window as incoherent monologues and farce commotion engulf Anne into sheer madness; a noteworthy scene being when Anne’s inner demon rises to the surface in a subway – incredible doesn’t touch on Anne’s mind-blowing performance. She won the Best Actress at Cannes that year; it’s not surprising considering the spellbinding depiction of her possession. It becomes apparent that Anne is concealing something far darker than anyone can expect – upon this divulgence, I found myself gazing at the screen wondering if I’d gone mad.
This film is full of chaos and dynamic extremity. I could feel the boundaries of the screen pulsating as ‘cinema’ was being pushed to its limits. Obviously, this viewing isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but there is sentimental value and a personal touch from Zulawski embedded into every mannerism. You will fall in and out of love with each scene and become wreathed in a state of psychosis – it’s not an everyday cinematic experience, but it’s one that should be cherished and honored.
Watch the trailer below: