Possessor (2020)

Director: Brandon Cronenberg
Writer: Brandon Cronenberg
Cast: Andrea Riseborough, Christopher Abbott, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Rossif Sutherland, Gabrielle Graham, Tuppence Middleton, Raoul Bhaneja, Sean Bean
Part of: SLASH 1/2 Festival
Seen on: 20.6.2021

Content Note: suicide

Tasya (Andrea Riseborough) has a very special job: she takes over people’s bodies, using them to fulfill her company’s missions – usually assassinations. It’s a job that doesn’t allow for errors, and it definitely doesn’t allow its operatives to lose sight of who they are. But Tasya has had some troubles recently, and her new job – taking over Colin (Christopher Abbott) – might be more than she can handle.

Possessor has a really good concept and came with some accolades, but ultimately I’m afraid that I expected a little more than it delivered. Which doesn’t mean that it isn’t an engaging and thoughtful film worth your time.

The film poster showing somebody wearing a mask that looks like a melted face and holding a knife.

I really liked the idea behind Possessor, the possessing itself (it reminded me a little of Starters and Enders by Lissa Price, though it is taken in another direction there [loved Starters, hated Enders so much, it destroyed Starters for me]). It was also pretty well-developed, though a couple of things really didn’t make that much sense to me – why go through all that trouble when you can just stage a suicide, for example?

Still, the implications of the technology introduced here are interesting (although thoroughly rooted in a mind-body-dichotomy that just doesn’t exist), and Cronenberg gives us a slightly surreal, associative way of exploring identity here, with some great visuals and a good soundtrack.

Girder (Jennifer Jason Leigh) checking in with Tasya (Andrea Riseborough) after her mission.

It may have been due to the temperatures (it was really, really very hot and the cinema doesn’t have A/C), but I thought that the film moved a little too slowly. It takes too long to set things up until the important dinner, and after it, it takes too long until Colin makes any decision. Tasya also remained a bit of a mystery to me (especially her relationship with her family had me scratching my head). That’s possibly just as designed, but if it is, that approach didn’t work for me – I would have liked to understand her better instead of puzzling over smaller things.

That being said, I did like Possessor. It’s a mindfucky film that gives you enough to think about, but it’s also simply a very aesthetic experience. I just wanted a little more from it.

Colin (Christopher Abbott) wearing futuristic goggles.

Summarizing: Not bad.

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