Obsessed (2009 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Steve Shill|
|Produced by||Will Packer|
|Written by||David Loughery|
|Music by||James Dooley|
|Edited by||Paul Seydor|
|Distributed by||Screen Gems|
Obsessed is a 2009 American thriller film directed by Steve Shill. The Rainforest Films production stars Idris Elba, Beyoncé 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 (Beyoncé), 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 $20 million, and filmed in the summer of 2008. Obsessed was 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, and was distributed by Screen Gems.
Obsessed received generally negative reviews from critics, many of whom 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, who were black, and Lisa, who was white, was unexplored. 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. Obsessed spent its first week atop the US box office, and grossed $73.8 million from theaters, internationally. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released the film for home viewing on August 4, 2009 in the US, and it has sold 1.3 million DVDs, worth $21 million of consumer spending.
Derek Charles (Idris Elba) works for a finance company and is married to Sharon Charles (Beyoncé). While Derek is at work, he greets temporary worker Lisa Sheridan (Ali Larter), who—believing Derek was flirting with her—attempts to seduce him throughout the film. Derek repeatedly rejects her, but Lisa continues to pursue him, making sexual advances on him at the Christmas party and flashing him in his car. Derek intends to report Lisa to his firm's human resource management, but learns that she has quit her job. Thinking that Lisa has given up, Derek is annoyed when he receives flirtatious emails from her. Derek and his workmates visit a resort for a conference, where he spots and confronts Lisa, who spikes his drink. Incapacitated, Derek is 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 naked in his bed after attempting suicide by drug overdose. Derek calls for medical help.
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) at first questions Derek's fidelity to Sharon as well, but soon becomes skeptical of Lisa's claims, due to inconsistencies in her side of the story, and informs Derek of her belief in him. Sharon kicks Derek out of their house, and Derek moves into a separate apartment. Months later, Derek and Sharon meet up for dinner and finally reconcile. Meanwhile, Lisa tricks the babysitter Samantha (Scout Taylor-Compton) into letting her in under the pretense of being one of Sharon's friends. When Derek and Sharon return home after dinner, they discover that Lisa had been in the house and seemingly abducted Derek and Sharon's infant son, Kyle (Nathan and Nicolas Myers). Derek goes to his car with the intent to pursue Lisa, only to find the baby safely sitting in the back seat. Derek and Sharon immediately take Kyle to the hospital for a check-up. When Derek and Sharon return home from the hospital, 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 going away from town for a few days, with Sharon leaving one 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 confronts Lisa, who tries to convince her that Derek was seeing Lisa. However, Sharon sees through her lie and attempts to call the police, but Lisa tackles her to the floor, and the two engage in a fistfight. Derek calls the home phone and Lisa answers; he calls Detective Reese and they both head toward the house. Lisa runs to the attic and Sharon pursues her. Sharon leads Lisa to a weak spot in the attic floor, where Lisa falls through. Seeing that Lisa is in mortal danger, Sharon reaches out in an attempt to grab Lisa and lift her up, but Lisa refuses and tries to pull Sharon down with her. Seeing that the floor is beginning to buckle, Sharon pries Lisa off of her arm. Lisa falls and smashes onto the glass table below. A chandelier falls from the ceiling onto Lisa and kills her. Detective Reese arrive as Sharon comes out of the house. As soon as Detective Reese goes inside the house to investigate Lisa's actions, Derek soon arrives; he and Sharon then tearfully embrace one another.
- Idris Elba as Derek Charles
- Beyoncé as Sharon Charles
- Ali Larter as Lisa Sheridan
- Nathan and Nicolas Myers as Kyle Charles
- Christine Lahti as Detective Monica Reese
- Scout Taylor-Compton as Samantha
- Jerry O'Connell as Ben
- Bruce McGill as Joe Gage
- Matthew Humphreys as Patrick
- Richard Ruccolo as Hank
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 Glenn S. Gainor, Jeff Graup, Earvin "Magic" Johnson, Beyoncé, Mathew Knowles, Damon Lee and Loughery, while Nicholas Stern and George Flynn served as co-producer and associate producer, respectively. Director Steve Shill signed on after reading the script and hearing that Beyoncé 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 $20 million. Shill stated that the intended effect of the film was to have the audience discuss 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." Lisa's past was deliberately omitted from the film, explaining, "It's scarier if we never really know how she's developed this personality that can go from very loving to ultimately deadly."
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 actors "who were relatable and who can handle that type of human interplay that we have in the film." Packer showed the film script to Beyoncé's talent agent, who suggested that Beyoncé 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 Beyoncé became interested in working on Obsessed because the film was not focused on the music industry, and that it was the first time she played a non-singer. Packer also reported that "she was looking for that challenge and welcomed this opportunity". Beyonce stated that she found it challenging to concentrate purely on "the emotion and the psychology of the relationship". Beyoncé had never taken part in a fight scene, but she was able to learn how to perform the scenes quickly because they were similar to dance choreography, with which she was familiar. Larter was inspired by 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 separate 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. According to Gainor, the house is symbolic of the family's aspirations, and is intentionally too large for the three occupants; he said, "It's a little awkward and a little bit eerie." The fight scene was filmed on a sound stage set, rather than in the house, for safety and practicability reasons.
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." Sharon wore clothes designed by Zac Posen, Yves Saint Laurent, Jimmy Choo, Diane von Fürstenberg, Valentino, Stella McCartney and Missoni, while Lisa wore Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana and Burberry outfits. Derek was dressed in Dolce & Gabbana and Versace suits with Thomas Pink shirts 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" (Beyoncé).
Release and reception
Obsessed received generally negative reviews from critics. Based on 85 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a "Rotten" rating from critics, with 19% positive reviews and an average rating of 3.7 out of 10. The site's consensus reads "The inevitable Fatal Attraction comparisons aside, Obsessed is a generic, toothless thriller both instantly predictable and instantly forgettable." Another review aggreatator, Metacritic, gave the film a weighted mean 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 did not explain why Lisa was so determined to seduce Derek, who showed no interest in her at all. Variety 's John Anderson and The Hollywood Reporter 's Kirk Honeycutt criticized Lisa's lack of motive and backstory. Stella Papamichael of Digital Spy called the film predictable and blamed the well-defined morality of the characters. She wrote, "Unlike the bunny-boiling '80s classic Fatal Attraction, the characters are drawn in 2D. They are either good or bad, and there is absolutely no attempt to understand what drives them either way." Liz Braun from Jam! lambasted the lack of character development in Obsessed and called it "a chemistry-free movie". Jason McKiernan of Filmcritic.com described the film as "so steeped in the formula of the psycho-sexual suspense flick that it works as both a thriller and a comedy" and "very good trash".
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. 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 The Guardian 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, two distinctions noted were that 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. Rickey opined that while the lack of infidelity made the film less thrilling, it "is about the sanctity of marriage rather than the shame of adultery."
The final fight scene between Sharon and Lisa was commended by critics. Marjorie Baumgarten from The Austin Chronicle stated that, despite the predictability of its plot, Obsessed caters to "the American moviegoers' appetite for a juicy catfight." E! Online's Natasha Vargas-Cooper lauded the choreography and noted the scene as the highlight of the film. McKiernan called it the "best knock-down, drag-out girlfight" of 2009. However, Alex Navarro from Screened called the fight "boring" because of the poor filming and editing of the scene.
Awards and nominations
At the 2009 Teen Choice Awards, Obsessed was nominated in the category of Choice Movie: Drama, while Beyoncé was a nominee for the Choice Movie Actress: Drama award. The fight scene between Sharon and Lisa garnered Beyoncé and Larter a nomination in the Teen Choice Awards' Choice Movie Rumble category, but lost to Twilight. Beyoncé and Larter were nominated in the categories of Worst Actress and Worst Supporting Actress, but lost to Sandra Bullock and Sienna Miller 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). Obsessed won the award for Best Fight at the 2010 MTV Movie Awards, for the fight between Sharon and Lisa. The stunt work was recognized at the 2010 Taurus World Stunt Awards with nominations for Best Fight and Best High Work, and the award for Best Overall Stunt by a Woman.
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. The top performing international territory was Spain, with an opening weekend of $646,760 and a final total of 1,914,828, followed by the United Kingdom with a total of $854,917, Germany with $529,794, and the region of Southern Africa with $343,932.
Obsessed was released for home viewing via DVD, Blu-ray and digital distribution by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment on August 4, 2009 in the US. In its first week of release, Obsessed sold 540,925 DVD copies in the US, worth $8,806,259 of sales. To date the film has sold 1,263,325 DVDs in the US, worth $20,976,204 of consumer expenditure.
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