Possessor ★★★

Fascinating setup with a number of directions to go in that spends the bulk of its running time in a shifting game of cat and mouse between two people sharing the same head, so to speak - ambitious in the sense that Brandon Cronenberg sets up the implications and then follows through, whether it's uses of technology, sex, taboo-busting, lingering on the effects of the violence, etc (I watched the uncut version) but it also plays as a bit of a shaggy dog joke about what spending all your time in other people's heads murdering for money does to a soul, and between that and the fascinating ambivalence over whether the procedure is meant to work smoothly, or if these people just aren't VERY GOOD AT THEIR JOBS, there was a nagging voice in my head (har har) that was wishing things had gone in a different, more exploratory direction - that the film sort of gave in by the end and embraced the company line of characters who were determined to assert that they weren't necessarily fully human, over the evidence provided by the characters themselves, if that makes sense. Maybe I'm just getting sentimental in my own age? Sort of like how I imagine there were probably some critics who were like 'Shivers was a freaky and rousing horror picture, but why couldn't that nice doctor dude stop the outbreak at the end!?' (Spoilers for Shivers, btw)

Not sure how different the 'cut' version is, but the Uncut version is definitely a 'proceed with caution' because of how violent it is. there is some facial trauma in particular that had me cringing

If body horror was what Cronenberg senior got typecast for, between this and Antiviral, Brandon Cronenberg seems very much focused on --hmm, I'm not sure. Identity horror, maybe? in both Possessor and Antiviral, there are companies exploiting technology to take advantage of personal identity itself and in doing so, blurring the lines between individuals, both those affected as collateral damage by their companties, and their own individual employees. There is an element of body horror that one would expect to carry on from the Cronenberg tradition, but there's also a very real sense of how identity itself, simply being, isn't safe in a late-late Capitalistic environment.

This is one of those three star reviews that very well could go up after a think or a rewatch.

The film LOOKS great, and the cast are good. Andrea Riseborough and Christopher Abbott are co-leads really - Riseborough has a great presence, and Abbott is a bit more of a cypher, but it works considering his role in the film --he's one of those actors who hasn't really been on my radar, but that's shifting. Jennifer Jason Leigh turned up, which was nice (She's now been in films for two generations of Cronenbergs!) and seeing Sean Bean was a pleasant surprise --either he had really good makeup for this, or he hasn't been afraid to age naturally.

The score, by Jim Williams (who's handled several Ben Wheatley films) is REALLY good, and surprisingly aggressive. Would definitely recommend this for an audience who was aware of what they were getting into, but I'd have to think about it at a family reunion, say.

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