Possession revolves around a lost child, a miscarriage in the Berlin subway with Anna (Isabelle Adjani), giving one of the most bonkers performances in all of cinema. Her husband, Mark (Sam Neill), is a spy, and while he’s been away, Anna has been having an affair with German bon vivant Heinrich (Heinz Bennent). And he might not be the only one. There’s something about Anna’s behavior that seems a little off. Then a lot off. Then, get the hell out of dodge.
You can probably guess that with a title like Possession, there’s something afoot. I wouldn’t dream of giving it away. There’s little wonder why critics and programmers steered clear of the movie and governments tried to censor it. What little audience found Possession in the early ’80s saw a butchered version that made considerably less sense than Polish filmmaker Andrzej Zulawski intended.
But Possession is magnificent: It is a movie of total conviction and little regard for anything other than the emotions it’s trying to convey. Zulawski set his story in Berlin, giving an already sumptuous film of breakdown a spectacular visual metaphor of the Berlin Wall twisting its way through an aging and soot-soaked city. Bruno Nuytten’s cinematography is so anarchic, so visceral, you feel mad just watching it. Now streaming at Metrograph.