Obsessed (2009 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Steve Shill|
|Produced by||Will Packer|
|Written by||David Loughery|
|Music by||James Dooley|
|Editing by||Paul Seydor|
|Distributed by||Screen Gems|
|Running time||108 minutes|
Obsessed is a 2009 American thriller film directed by Steve Shill. The Screen Gems production stars Idris Elba, Beyoncé Knowles and Ali Larter. Obsessed tells the story of Lisa, an office temp played by Larter, who falls in love with her boss, Derek Charles (Elba), and attempts to seduce him. Derek's wife, Sharon (Knowles), learns of Lisa's obsessive behavior, and suspects an affair.
Screen Gems president Clint Culpepper conceived the basic idea of Obsessed, which was then developed by writer David Loughery, allocated a production budget of US$20 million, and filmed in the summer of 2008. Obsessed was filmed on a set inspired by the work of directors Roman Polanski and Alfred Hitchcock, and its score was written by James Dooley. Lisa and Sharon were dressed in contrasting styles to reinforce their conflicting characters. Obsessed opened in US theaters on April 24, 2009, and UK theaters on May 29, 2009.
Film critics generally gave Obsessed negative reviews. Many were disappointed in the absence of an explanation for Lisa's obsession with Derek. Others noted that the potential theme of interracial conflict between the Charles family (black) and Lisa (white) was untouched. The storyline of Obsessed has been compared with that of Fatal Attraction (1987), although film critics disliked the fact that Derek did not yield to Lisa's seduction. The fight scene finale between Sharon and Lisa, however, was commended by reviewers, and won the MTV Movie Award for Best Fight at the 2010 awards ceremony.
Obsessed spent its first week atop the US box office, and has grossed $73,830,340 from theaters, internationally. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment first released the film for home viewing on August 4, 2009 via DVD and Blu-ray in the US, and it was later made available in other countries. In the US, Obsessed has sold 1,208,077 home media copies, worth $20,692,668 of consumer spending, bringing its total gross revenue to $94,523,008.
Derek Charles (Idris Elba) is the Executive Vice President of Gage Bendix, a finance company. Derek and his wife, Sharon (Beyoncé Knowles) have an infant son, Kyle (Nathan and Nicolas Myers). While Derek is at work, he briefly flirts with temp Lisa Sheridan (Ali Larter), who later attempts to seduce him throughout the film. Derek repeatedly rejects her, but Lisa continues make advances on him, attempting to have sex with him at the no-spouse Christmas party and flashes him in his car. Derek intends to report Lisa to his firm's human resource management, but learns that she has quit her job. Derek and his workmates visit a resort for a conference, where he spots and confronts Lisa, who spikes his drink. Incapacitated, Derek is somewhat helpless when Lisa follows him into his hotel room and kisses him. He confronts Lisa again the following day, and hours later discovers her lying in his bed after attempting suicide by drug overdose. After repeated attempts to reach Derek on his phone, Sharon finds Derek at the hospital and suspects that he and Lisa had an affair, as Lisa claims. Detective Monica Reese (Christine Lahti) questions Derek, becomes skeptical of Lisa's claims, and informs Derek of her belief in him. Sharon kicks Derek out of their house, and Derek moves into a separate apartment.
While Derek and Sharon are dining out, Lisa breaks into their house, tricks the babysitter Samantha (Scout Taylor-Compton) into letting her in under the pretense of being one of Sharon's friends, and flees with Kyle. When Derek and Sharon return home after dinner, they discover that Lisa has abducted Kyle. Derek goes to his car with the intent to pursue Lisa, only to find Kyle sitting safely in the back seat. Derek and Sharon immediately take Kyle to the hospital for a check-up. When Derek and Sharon return home after checking-up Kyle, they find Lisa has trashed their bedroom and removed Sharon's face from their family portrait. Sharon leaves a threatening voice message on Lisa's phone, and she and Derek set up a home alarm system. Lisa learns that Derek and Sharon will be away from town, with Sharon leaving that afternoon and Derek the next day. While Sharon is on her way to pick up Kyle, she realizes that she forgot to set the alarm system and returns home. Meanwhile, Lisa breaks into Derek and Sharon's house again and decorates the master bed with rose petals. While setting the alarm, Sharon hears Lisa in the bedroom. Sharon tells Lisa that she is calling the police, but Lisa proves to be far stronger and more dangerous than she anticipated and easily tackles her to the floor. Sharon and Lisa engage in a fistfight. Sharon is aggressive and uses her size advantage while Lisa targets Sharon's throat. Lisa gains the upper hand by elbowing Sharon in the face and attempting to force her over the stair banister, while choking her with both hands. In desperation, Sharon lunges forward and Sharon and Lisa engage in a struggle where Lisa, refusing to let go of her throat, manages to overpower and wrestle Sharon down the stairs, temporarily knocking her out. Derek calls his house and Lisa answers; so he calls Detective Reese and immediately leaves his office.
Lisa runs to the attic, where Sharon pursues her. Sharon leads Lisa to a weak spot in the attic floor, where Lisa falls through. Sharon reaches out and attempt to grab Lisa to lift her up, but Lisa refuses and pulls Sharon down with her. Seeing that the floor is beginning to buckle, Sharon pries Lisa off of her arm. Lisa falls onto a chandelier, which breaks her fall, but lets go and falls onto the glass table below. Lisa opens her eyes, only to see that the chandelier is falling towards her. Derek and Detective Reese soon arrive as Sharon comes out of the front door of the house. The film ends when Derek and Sharon embracing with each other as Detective Reese immediately enters their house to investigate Lisa's actions.
- Idris Elba as Derek Charles, Executive Vice President of Gage Bendix
- Beyoncé Knowles as Sharon Charles, Derek's wife
- Ali Larter as Lisa Sheridan, a temp worker who becomes dangerously obsessed with Derek
- Nathan and Nicolas Myers as Kyle Charles, Derek and Sharon's infant son
- Christine Lahti as Detective Monica Reese, policewoman who investigates Lisa's case
- Scout Taylor-Compton as Samantha, the Charles' babysitter
- Jerry O'Connell as Ben, an office colleague of Derek's
- Bruce McGill as Joe Gage, Derek's boss
- Matthew Humphreys as Patrick, Derek's assistant
- Richard Ruccolo as Hank, the human resource manager of Gage Bendix
The concept of Obsessed was thought up by Clint Culpepper, president of Screen Gems, and was shared with David Loughery, who wrote the screenplay. Producer William Packer read the script and signed on; executive producers for the film were George Flynn, Glenn S. Gainor, Jeff Graup, Earvin "Magic" Johnson, Beyoncé Knowles, Mathew Knowles, Damon Lee and Loughery, while Nicholas Stern served as co-producer. Director Steve Shill signed on after reading the script and hearing that Knowles was on board. Part of the reason Elba joined in was that the black–white theme was ignored; "It's not mentioned in the film, it's never an issue, and I think that's phenomenal ... To me, that was very refreshing that the studio execs didn't want to make an issue of it." Obsessed was allocated a production budget of US$20 million. Shill stated that the intended effect of the film was to have the audience discuss about the characters' motivations. Writer David Loughery designed Lisa as "not a villain in a traditional sense; she's not setting out to wreck a marriage or ruin somebody's life. She really believes that [Derek] is in love with her."
Casting and filming 
The casting directors for Obsessed were Ron Digman and Valorie Massalas. According to Packer, Elba and Larter were the favorite actors for their respective lead roles; he stated that "they both brought the right amount of depth and sex appeal" to the film. He emphasized the need for the characters to be "relatable and [be able to] handle that type of human interplay that we have in the film." Packer showed the film script to Knowles' talent agent, who suggested that Knowles play the role of Sharon. The producers "immediately ... fell in love with that idea; once she suggested Beyoncé, nobody else could play the role." Packer said that Knowles became interested in working on Obsessed because of the fact that the film was not focused on the music industry, unlike her previous lead acting roles, and that "she was looking for that challenge and welcomed this opportunity". Sharon was Knowles' first film starring portrayal of a non-singer, therefore she found it challenging to concentrate purely on "the emotion and the psychology of the relationship". Furthermore, Knowles had never taken part in a fight scene prior to Obsessed, however she quickly picked up the skill due to its similarities to dance choreography, with which she is familiar. For the film, Larter was inspired by the actresses Rita Hayworth, Barbara Stanwyck and Faye Dunaway, all of whom had previously portrayed femme fatales. Obsessed was filmed over the summer of 2008, and the final fight scene between Sharon and Lisa was shot over one week.
Set and costumes 
Shill and cinematographer Ken Seng were inspired by Roman Polanski and Alfred Hitchcock when constructing the set, and attempted to make it look both frightening and suburban. Shill stated, "It didn't look like typical Hollywood; it didn't look cosmetic." The Charles' family home was set in a 1923 Altadena, California house, however the action scenes were shot on a purpose-built set. The set was customized from a house built for The Stepfather (2009), which in turn was adapted from a block of apartments for Quarantine (2008). The Charles' living room had a ceiling 25 feet (7.6 m) high, and a custom-built chandelier for the climactic ending of the film.
Costume designer Maya Lieberman attempted to contrast the costumes of Sharon and Lisa to reinforce the conflict between the two characters. She said, "With Ali, our discussion started with wanting really clean, classic and sharp lines, whereas Beyoncé's character [wore] more soft, more textural cashmeres and knits." Derek was dressed in Dolce & Gabbana and Versace suits to create a "prestigious yet contemporary" look.
The film score for Obsessed was written by James Dooley. The beginning of Obsessed, where the Charles are seen in their home, plays adult contemporary music in the background. The remainder of the film's first act is supported by light piano instrumentation, and occasional "low-register whoosh-thump noises, of the kind you might hear in a stalker movie", according to Sady Doyle of The Guardian. Studio recorded songs on the soundtrack of Obsessed are "Any Other Day" (Wyclef Jean and Norah Jones), "Black and Gold" (Sam Sparro), "Soul Food" (Martina Topley-Bird), "American Boy" (Estelle), "Jolly Holly (Deck the Halls)" (Mike Strickland), "I'm Gonna Getcha" (Crudo), "The Christmas Song" (Marcus Miller), "Play That Funky Music" (Wild Cherry), "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" (Ruben Studdard and Tamyra Gray), "Wild Thing" (Tone Lōc), "Oye Al Desierto" (With the Quickness), "Destiny" (Zero 7), "Meet the Brilliant" (Draque Bozung), "Golden" (Jill Scott), "Bambool Wall" (Patch), and "Smash into You" (Knowles).
Release and reception 
Critical response 
Obsessed received generally negative reviews from critics. Based on 85 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a "Rotten" rating from critics, with 20% positive reviews and an average rating of 3.7 out of 10. Another review aggreatator, Metacritic, gave the film an average score of 25 out of 100, based on ten reviews from mainstream critics. A common complaint about the film was that unlike most 'deranged stalker'-themed films, Obsessed made no attempt to explain why Lisa was so determined to seduce Derek, who never showed any interest whatsoever in taking her up on her offer. According to Variety's John Anderson, "David Loughery's screenplay never provides any explanation for why [Lisa] is who she is: She has no motives other than mad obsession ... and she has no backstory". The Hollywood Reporter's Kirk Honeycutt criticized the fact that "Loughery makes no attempt to supply a motive or even a misunderstanding for the young woman's aberrant behavior."
Reviewers also noted that the potential for interracial conflict remained unexplored; Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman wrote, "The movie wants to tease us with intimations of a steamy biracial liaison; it just doesn't want to actually go there." Wesley Morris of The Boston Globe was disappointed that "Obsessed basically plays it safe. The obvious racial buttons are never pushed". Greg Quill from the Toronto Star agreed, and wrote that Shill and Loughery "stripped the drama of its potentially gripping – and obvious – racial overtones". However, Carrie Rickey of The Philadelphia Inquirer pointed out that having the two female roles of differing races "creates racial tension", and noted similarities to "the racially charged" Lakeview Terrace (2008), which Loughery also wrote. Jam!'s Liz Braun was of the impression that a well-written script was replaced by the film's "racial politics". When Derek confronts Lisa at the business conference, she threatens him with a sexual harassment complaint; Sady Doyle from guardian.co.uk wrote that this alludes to "the history of black men being lynched for their perceived threat to white women". Doyle pointed out that historically white women are more revered for their beauty than black women, which is a side theme of the fight between Sharon and Lisa. Melissa Anderson of LA Weekly suggested that awkwardness of the interracial relationship of Derek and Lisa as a reason why the filmmakers did not have the two characters partake in any sexual activity.
Critics drew close comparisons between Obsessed and Adrian Lyne's 1987 stalker thriller Fatal Attraction. However, it was noted that unlike Fatal Attraction, Obsessed contains no bunny boiling-like incidents, and that Derek and Lisa did not actually have sexual intercourse. John Anderson of Variety wrote, "If Derek had actually slept with Lisa, a la Michael Douglas in Fatal Attraction, Obsessed would at least have had the spurned-woman gambit to play, however hoary." Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film zero out of four stars, and wrote that Derek's lack of interest in Lisa allowed for no conflict in the film. Travers concluded, "Everything you need to know is in the trailer." The Daily Telegraph's Tim Robey thought that Obsessed would have been more entertaining had Lisa's character been fiercer like Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction.
The final fight scene between Sharon and Lisa was commended by critics. Marjorie Baumgarten from The Austin Chronicle stated that Obsessed caters to "the American moviegoers' appetite for a juicy catfight." E! Online's Natasha Vargas-Cooper described the "remarkably well-choreographed final fight scene" as the climactic highlight of Obsessed. Jason McKiernan of Filmcritic.com wrote, "the film crescendos in what I can safely say will be 2009's best knock-down, drag-out girlfight".
Awards and nominations 
At the 2009 Teen Choice Awards, Obsessed was nominated in the category of Choice Movie: Drama, while Knowles was a nominee for the Choice Movie Actress: Drama award. The fight scene between Sharon and Lisa garnered Knowles and Larter a nomination in the Teen Choice Awards' Choice Movie Rumble category. Knowles and Larter were nominated in the categories of Worst Actress and Worst Supporting Actress, respectively, at the 30th Golden Raspberry Awards ("Razzies"). Idris Elba was a nominee for the award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture at the 41st NAACP Image Awards, but lost to Morgan Freeman's portrayal of Nelson Mandela in Invictus (2009). The only award that Obsessed won was that for Best Fight at the 2010 MTV Movie Awards, for the fight between Sharon and Lisa.
Box office 
Obsessed was screened at 2,514 theaters and grossed $11,209,297 on its opening day of April 24, 2009; it ended its opening weekend at the top of the box office, with gross revenue of $28,612,730 in those three days, and became the second-biggest opening weekend for a Screen Gems film ever. The film spent its entire first week of release at number one and grossed $34,802,334, however it slipped to number three the following week due to the release of X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. Obsessed closed in US cinemas on June 14, 2009, having grossed $68,261,644 domestically in its eight weeks of availability, which made up 92.5% of its gross worldwide takings. Outside the US, the film grossed an additional $5,568,696, bringing its total gross box office revenue to $73,830,340.
Home media 
Obsessed was released on DVD and Blu-ray by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment on August 4, 2009, in the US. It is also available through digital distribution. The DVD and Blu-ray were released by Columbia Pictures and TriStar Pictures in Canada on August 4, 2009, and by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in the United Kingdom on October 26, 2009. The film was released by Sony Pictures Entertainment via DVD and Blu-ray in France on October 21, 2009. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released the film for home viewing in Germany by DVD and Blu-ray on December 10, 2009. The DVD of Obsessed was made available on January 13, 2010 by Sony Pictures in Italy, and on August 25, 2010 by Sony Pictures Entertainment in Japan. In its first week of release in the US, Obsessed sold 540,925 copies, worth $8,806,259 of sales. To date it has sold 1,208,077 copies in the US, worth $20,692,668 of consumer expenditure.
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