Our Rating: ★★½☆☆
L Factor: Major lesbian content
Short Take: A researcher finds evidence that poet Randolph Henry Ash had an affair with another poet, who left her lover for him.
Alternate Titles:
Year: 2002
Duration: 102 min
Language: USA, UK/English
MPAA: PG-13
Director: Neil LaBute
Writer: A.S. Byatt, David Henry Hwang
Starring: Gwyneth Paltrow, Aaron Eckhart, Jeremy Northam, Jennifer Ehle, Lena Headey, Holly Aird, Toby Stephens, Trevor Eve, Tom Hickey, Georgia Mackenzie, Tom Hollander, Graham Crowden, Anna Massey, Craig Crosbie, Christopher Good

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PossessionRoland Michell (Aaron Eckhart) is a US scholar researching the life of 19th century English poet Randolph Henry Ash (Jeremy Northam, The Misadventures of Margaret). He finds original letters suggesting that Ash may have had an affair with another poet at the time, Christabel LaMotte (Jennifer Ehle). When he meets with Maud Bailey (Gwyneth Paltrow), a London expert on LaMotte, she is skeptical. LaMotte was believed to be a lesbian and lived with companion Blanche Glover (Lena Headey, Imagine Me and You) for years.

When Roland reads Blanche’s journals, he finds that Christabel did receive letters and poetry from Ash. The film moves between present day and the 1800s as we see what is found in letters and diaries playing out. Christabel attempts to cut off contact at one point, writing about Blanche, ‘It is a chosen way of life in which I have been wondrously happy and not alone in being so. I have chosen a way, dear friend, I must hold to it.’

But it does not end, causing only heartache for Blanche. Roland and Maud follow the trail of evidence and begin to fall in love themselves as we see Christabel and Ash do the same.

Unfortunately, regardless of the interesting plot and lovely historical settings, Possession is another film in which a woman leaves her lover for a man – with a stereotypical suicide in the story as well. (AB)