25 April 2009


URBAN: A feature that some will love, some, being those that like Beyonce Knowles. Everyone else will be very frustrated because this film never answers the "why".
LUCAS: The first half is interesting, the rest is mostly garbage.

Obsessed features The Wire's Idris Elba as Derek, a high-powered executive, with a near-perfect marriage to Sharon (Beyoncé Knowles), a young son, and a beautiful new house. His storybook life is interrupted with the arrival of a new office assistant, Lisa (Ali Larter). Lisa becomes obsessed with Derek, and in a series of escalating incidents, tries to live out her fantasy of being with him.

I can't really describe what I feel as a disappointment, because I didn't expect much. On some level though, I did want there to be a backstory that explained why Ali Larter was so aggressive.

I agree, Ali Larter's character had no explanation whatsoever, and while that doesn't make or break a movie, in this case it broke it. The film set itself up as a psychological thriller. The first half builds up tension nicely, you wonder what Lisa's angle is, and you cringe as Derek just manages to extricate himself from sticky situations. Then it turns out she has no angle, she's just nuts. It could have been so much more. It was like the screenwriters watched Disclosure and wanted to re-make it, but forgot to give the crazy girl a motivation.

Really the two halves of the film could have worked if they had each been separated and expanded into separate movies. The first half, a psychological cat-and-mouse game, the last half, a pure horror movie.

More important that the story and the total lack of artistic expression here was the cultural phenomenon that we stumbled upon. Without even looking for it we scheduled ourselves to see the most popular movie of the weekend (I'm calling it now). The Soloist should have been called "Reek of Desperation, Seeking Oscar". Fighting a remake of Step up to the Streets with fists. What Obsessed had that those didn't was simply Beyonce.

People, especially particular demographics will turn out in droves to see Beyonce Knowles in a film. While it wasn't especially marketed as a vehicle for her, by the end, this film is all about Beyonce, showcasing her fierceness in a long fight scene against the homewrecking Larter. I was surprised at how violent this scene was. It was too bad that this theme, and playing up on these race relations wasn't more of the subject of the film.

Yes, they missed out on a chance to make intelligent and insightful commentary on race relations, but instead shied entirely away from the issue. The one moment I thought they were going to make a go for it was when Derek's co-worker is warning him to watch out for Lisa... but they just breezed on by.

Overall, I had to say that one of the primary reasons that I didn't care for this film was the anti-feminist story over-arching throughout the film. It is really unfair that one of the women is solely to blame, and that the other one is made to look foolish for continuing to support her male counterpart. This squaring-off of the females is an easy play and doesn't rely on any subtlety.

Ah yes, another opportunity for subtext that the film missed entirely. Instead of commenting on the different ways social contact can be perceived by different people, they make one perception (Derek's) absolutely right, and the other perception (Lisa's) absolutely wrong. It seemed at the beginning that they may play with the idea that Derek was leading Lisa on, but instead they turn Lisa into a parody of a jilted lover and play it for all it's worth. Ham-handed and boring.

LUCAS: Not recommended.
URBAN: Not Recommended.

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