National Post (Latest Edition)
Possessor needs more fleshing out
Cast: Andrea Riseborough, Christopher Abbott, Jennifer Jason Leigh Director: Brandon Cronenberg Duration: 1 h 43 m
In the Cronenberg clan, not only does the apple not fall far from the tree, it lands with a satisfying, pulpy splat.
Canadian icon David Cronenberg is best known for such body- horror standouts as The Fly, Videodrome and Scanners — all made when his son Brandon was just a few years old, by the way.
The younger Cronenberg is now a filmmaker in his own right, having kicked off his feature directing career in 2012 with Antiviral, a dark science fiction tale about celebrity obsession and disease.
His newest, Possessor, is another dystopian story that’s been variously described as Inception- meetsviolent- thriller- of- yourchoice. In a near future, a shadowy organization carries out assassinations by taking over the minds of innocent people and operating them, puppet-style.
Andrea Riseborough plays a hit woman with the Star Wars- esque name of Tasya Vos. Although she doesn’t technically kill anyone — she spends her time lying on a padded couch, linked to whomever she’s controlling — she’s burdened with all the gruesome memories. An early, eerie scene finds her practising out loud how to talk to her husband and child. She doesn’t feel at home in her body anymore.
It’s a fascinating setup, but the plot feels a few details short of completion — though there are many squirm- inducing shots of needles penetrating skin. We meet Tasya’s boss ( Jennifer Jason Leigh), but learn little about their relationship. And her next job, which involves taking over the body of the husband of a tech- company heiress, introduces interesting elements — the company seems to be involved in some sort of next-generation targeted online marketing — without fully developing them.
There’s still much to sink your teeth into, and the film will happily reciprocate and sink its teeth into you, too. And there are great performances by Christopher Abbott as the man Tasya is remote- controlling, and Sean Bean as his odious father- in- law. But ultimately, Possessor feels more like a rough draft than a finished product.
I hope Cronenberg gets a chance to revisit some of these themes, and quickly. He comes by his passion naturally. Π•½