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Possession
cast: Gwyneth Paltrow, Aaron Eckhart, Jeremy Northam, Jennifer Ehle, and Lena Headey

director: Neil LaBute

98 minutes (12) 2002
Warner VHS rental or retail
Also available to rent or buy on DVD
[released 5 May]

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by Mike Philbin
A retrospective exhibition of work by 19th century poet's Randolph Henry Ash (played by Northam), opens in London. Ash's career has been copybook stuff, dreamy spires and wandering clouds with not a whiff of scandal, until...
   Enter American assistant to Professor Blackadder, Roland Michell (Eckhart) who discovers a couple a secret letters stashed away in a technical treatise at the British Library. A revelation of this magnitude would rewrite that part of literary history and Eckhart stumbles upon circumstantial evidence in a letter mentioning a meeting with one Christabel La Motte (Ehle) and tracks down the eminent authority on La Motte, Maud Bailey (Paltrow) to help him solve the mystery.
   The movie plays like twins threads of a parallel universe that constantly intertwine in ways neither of the two contemporary protagonists could ever have hoped. Theirs is a strange relationship brought together by words from the past. Their personal lives and the baggage all of us carry around with us getting in the way of them seeing this adventure through to fruition.
   It is a feelgood movie that is delightfully structured, written by David Henry Hwang based on the novel by A.S. Byatt. The acting is refined and understated (apart from the wonderfully over-the-top Sir George who is master of the Bailey house). To keep tension high, there is a rival investigation in the form of the underhand auctioneer Cropper and Wolfe (Bailey's ex). It all comes together quite nicely.
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