Monday, June 01, 2009

the contrarian: "Obsessed"

Ali Larter tries to get down and dirty with Idris Elba - and us - is a bit of juicy fun called "Obsessed"
I caught up with Steve Shill's "Obsessed" belatedly.

It opened in April - to predictably dismissive reviews - but kept hanging in there at my local cineplex. What I encountered was a tight, taut, feisty bit of psychosexual fun. Yes, it is very much derivative of "Fatal Attraction" -and, by extension, "The Temp" - but then those films owe a great deal to "Play 'Misty' For Me." And, perhaps for that reason, "Obsessed" was hastily bushed aside by critics who think they have much more important titles to analyze. Not that anyone listens to critics anymore.

The fact is, movies are parasitic. They live off one another. And "Obsessed" does it well. Very well. It is infinitely superior to "Fatal Attraction," largely because Glenn Close isn't in it. (Wait! I like Glenn Close. I really do. Just not in that film. Funny how so awful a character in so awful a film turned her into a temporary bankable star. Go figure.)

Shill adds a racial element to the mix but his film is never racist, something which his game cast - Beyoncé Knowles, as the seemingly betrayed wife; the very good Idris Elba, as her husband, a good man who has been set up, and especially Ali Larter, as the psycho diva who just can't get enough - clearly gets. They are all highly companionable.

The film's big setpiece is a showdown between Knowles and Larter, but the real star here is ace editor Paul Seydor (Ron Shelton's house editor) who works with, rather than against, the movement of the sequence.

"Obsessed" is gone, but when it materializes on DVD (with extras!), check it out. I've no idea who Steve Shill is, but I look forward to his next movie.

Note in Passing: A bonus here is Christine Lahti, a pleasing presence seen too infrequently on screen, as a borderline inept police detective which Lahti plays with a straight face. Get this woman back in movies.



jbryant said...

Seydor should've gotten at least a nomination for White Men Can't Jump, and he also deserves kudos for his Peckinpah-related work (a book, a doc, stumping for a release of the restored Wild Bunch).

The film looks like a fun ride. Will check it out at some point.

joe baltake said...

Seydor is the ultimate pro. I've no idea if "Obsessed" would have been as good without him, but his handiwork certainly elevates familiar generic material.

pseydor said...

many thanks to the both of you for your kind and generous remarks about my work. Eschewing false and possibly real humility, I too think I should have gotten at least a nomination for White Men (and Ron Shelton too as writer and director). But hells bells, as my mother would say, when you stop to think that Sam Peckinpah never received a directing nominationl let alone Oscar, mine seems a very puny injustice indeed.

As for Obsessed, some films are work, some are fun. This one was lots of fun.