If I celebrated a film concocted in an orgy of milk, demonic cum, and vomit, you might think I was mad. However, I do bloody love Andrzej Zulawski’s Possession, not just because it has everything from sexual mutilations to wild psychotic descents, but as they are project with wonderfully bizarre methods.
It is a tricky film to bed within any one genre. It will explicitly appeal to art-house audiences. However, suspense, drama, mystery and horror are all at work here to create a distressingly tragic and intimate movie about relationships. It sounds overwhelming, it is, but Zulawski’s direction is masterful in fitting all these outlandish rudiments into a single package (orgasm). He plays around with striking set pieces and tight spaces giving the film a claustrophobic component, which is terrifying. To further complement the acts of insanity, legendary French cinematographer, Bruno Nuytten, meets Zulawski’s vision with gorgeously long sweeping camera shots and 360-degree panoramas of deranged characters.
The plot concerns the breakdown of a couples marriage into hysteric arguments and masochistic melodrama. The husband (Sam 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 – the performance is mind-blowing. She won Best Actress at Cannes that year. Her depiction of possession is truly spellbinding. It becomes apparent that Anne is concealing something far darker than anyone could anticipate, which in lieu of the events, makes us begin to question our own sanity as viewers.
Chaos and dynamic extremity sum up the surface. I could feel the boundaries of the screen pulsating as cinema was being pushed to its limits. But there is also a sentimental value and personal touch from Zulawski embedded into every key moment in the story and by his choice of film language. You will fall in and out of love with each scene and become wreathed in your seat. It’s certainly a cinematic experience to be cherished and held in honour of the exciting form.