Screen Gems // 2009 // 108 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Clark Douglas // August 4th, 2009
How Far Would You Go to Protect What's Yours?
"You came into my house. You touched my child. You think you're crazy? I'll show you crazy. Just try me, bitch!"
Derek Charles (Idris Elba, The Office) is a happy, successful man. He and his beautiful wife Sharon (Beyonce Knowles, The Pink Panther) have just moved into a new home, and Derek's job at a major law firm seems to be getting better every day. La-dee-da. One day, Derek's assistant gets sick and is replaced by a temp. The temp's name is Lisa (Ali Larter, Heroes), a blonde bombshell who seems to get particularly flirty whenever she's around Derek. Her attempts to woo him grow increasingly intense as time passes, but Derek is having none of it. He cares too much about his marriage to throw it all away for the sake of a little fling. He rejects Lisa in no uncertain terms. Lisa responds by quitting. Problem solved, right? Not so fast. Several months later, Lisa strikes with a vengeance. She begins to stalk Derek, sending him dirty e-mails and calling his home. The longer Derek refuses to submit to her, the more intense her tactics become. If he doesn't give in, will she destroy his life and his family?
As many others have pointed out, Obsessed is essentially a remake of Fatal Attraction with a few negligible plot variations. Much like that film, it's also a ridiculous slice of cinematic trash. The only real difference is that this one received poor reviews while Fatal Attraction received lots of Academy Award nominations. Truthfully, Obsessed is roughly even with that so-called "classic" both in terms of craftsmanship and believability. In other words, it's silly entertainment at best and irritating foolishness at worst.
The film was promoted as a "catfight" movie of sorts, as the trailers hyped up the third-act conflict between Larter and Knowles. If the idea of two women scratching and clawing over a handsome man sounds somewhat sexist, that's exactly how it plays in the film. Lisa is a woman who completely embarrasses herself in almost every way possible in a shameless attempt to get Derek in her bed. Every minute of every day revolves around Derek for her. There is no limit to how far she will go in terms of manipulation both sexual and emotional. On the other side of things, Sharon is a needy, overly dependent woman who demonstrates paranoid behavior at all times. If Derek ever interacts one-on-one with another woman under any circumstances, Sharon becomes suspicious and angry. Yeah, these gals aren't exactly shining beacons of feminism.
Elba is a rather stellar actor who does what he can with the role, but his performance seems to suggest more intelligence than the script allows him to demonstrate. His commitment to his wife is admirable, but there are about two dozen moments over the course of the film in which he fails to tell someone about the crazy things going on in his life. If he had only been bright enough to do so, this whole mess could have been avoided. Then again, if he had been a bit brighter, I suppose we wouldn't have had this movie. I just can't help but think that this sort of film would be a bit more engaging if the protagonist were genuinely capable of thinking rationally through each situation. The fact that so much of what happens here is reliant on Derek's stupidity is frustrating.
Everything climaxes in a glorious/headache-inducing display of preposterous behavior that once again echoes Fatal Attraction. Without wanting to spoil what happens, suffice it to say that a toddler is stolen, trips to the hospital are made, there's a great big battle inside the Charles family fortress and a chandelier crashes. While director Steve Shill is able to bring a slick professionalism to the proceedings, the weaknesses of the script simply can't be overcome by polished production values. Fine supporting actors like Bruce McGill and Christine Lahti are welcome presences, but they aren't given enough screen time to make much of an impact.
The standard-def transfer is a rather good one for the most part, offering the muted color palette with clarity and depth. Some of the really dark scenes suffer from a lack of definition, but otherwise I have no significant complaints. Audio is stellar as well, with the moody Jim Dooley score blending well with the dialogue and minimalist sound design. The action sequences (brief as they are) run the risk of becoming a bit overheated, but I don't think its significant enough to complain about. The supplements are limited to three brief EPK-style featurettes: "Playing Nicely Together," "Dressed to Kill," and "Girl Fight!" These are a waste of time.
I wish I could recommend Obsessed as soapy fun, but the level of idiocy on display here is simply too high. This film isn't worth obsessing over.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Screen Gems
* 2.40:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
Running Time: 108 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13