Possession (2002 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Neil LaBute|
|Produced by||Barry Levinson
|Written by||David Henry Hwang
|Based on||Possession: A Romance by A. S. Byatt|
|Music by||Gabriel Yared|
|Editing by||Claire Simpson|
|Distributed by||Focus Features
Warner Bros. Pictures
|Release dates||August 16, 2002 (Limited)
August 30, 2002
|Running time||102 minutes|
Possession is a 2002 American/British romantic/mystery drama film written and directed by Neil LaBute, starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Aaron Eckhart. It was based on the 1990 novel of the same name by British author A. S. Byatt, who won the Booker Prize for it that year.
The literary scholars, American Roland Mitchell (Aaron Eckhart) and British Maud Bailey (Gwyneth Paltrow), search for the lost correspondence of Victorian era poets Randolph Henry Ash (Jeremy Northam) and Christabel LaMotte (Jennifer Ehle). Academics have long believed that the traditional and conservative Ash and the freethinking lesbian LaMotte were social enemies, but Mitchell and Bailey have independently discovered evidence that they were secretly lovers. When rival scholars become aware of their efforts, a race is on to unearth and publish the truth.
- Aaron Eckhart as Roland Michell
- Gwyneth Paltrow as Maud Bailey
- Jeremy Northam as Randolph Henry Ash
- Jennifer Ehle as Christabel LaMotte
- Lena Headey as Blanche Glover
- Holly Aird as Ellen Ash
- Toby Stephens as Fergus Wolfe
- Tom Hollander as Euan
Three early drafts of the film's screenplay were written by American playwright David Henry Hwang in the 1990s, but the project languished in pre-production for years (with directors such as Sydney Pollack and Gillian Armstrong working on the film and eventually giving up) before LaBute came aboard. LaBute made drastic changes to the story, based partially on notes that original author Byatt had made on earlier drafts of the screenplay, as she recognized that Roland had to "exist on screen" in a different way than he did in the book.
"What she basically said was, 'This is Roland on the page; you must make him different in a film!' She got that Roland needed more drive. Just seeing those notes kind of gave me the keys to the kingdom. And so in the film, Roland keeps making these wild, imaginative leaps about the poets' lives, and Maud's both charmed and appalled."
LaBute changed Roland's nationality from British to American, and made him more brash and active. He denied that this was "shameless pandering to the audience....in part, it was [just] more comfortable for me to write Roland that way."
The film has been released on DVD with subtitles and captions.
- Daniel Zalewski (18 August 2002). "FILM; Can Bookish Be Sexy? Yeah, Says Neil LaBute". The New York Times'. Retrieved 2008-03-25.
- "News Summary: Berry Sorry". by Sandra P. Angulo, Entertainment Weekly. 2000-05-11. Retrieved 2007-03-06.