Possessor

Possessor ★★★★½

My most eagerly anticipated film of not just this year's LFF but 2020 in general and boy, did it deliver! For me, this will forever mark the moment Cronenberg Jr truly came of age, emerging from a long paternal shadow as the distinctive new voice in genre filmmaking that we got a got a hint of with Antiviral. While his debut showed signs of promise, this one is so much more expansive in its scope and ambition; aesthetically, on another level.

Casting Jennifer Jason Leigh as the elder stateswoman, veteran mind patch assassin, inevitably recalls the brilliant eXistenZ and her role as Allegra Geller, vaguely resurrecting that film's preoccupations with disruptive technology, pushing human consciousness through the glass ceiling of consensual reality into a dizzying multiverse of possibilities. It's a comprehensive firmware update though, containing a murderous echo of Iain Banks's Transition, that through its body-hijacking mindfuck M.O. satirizes the increasing dissolution of public and private boundaries in an age where remote warfare is no longer science fiction. Coping (or not coping) with the fallout makes for a fascinating character study built around Andrea Riseborough's Tasya Vos, who, along with the other actor she inhabits, Christopher Abbott, gives a haunting and haunted performance at the centre of the maelstrom.

Aesthetically stunning - multi-layered and dazzling in its lucid visual language of colour and geometry - it presents an immersive experience of the near future; actualized cyber warfare. The eye candy is shored up with a cold, compelling score by Jim Williams as well as some judiciously curated musical selections and vivid sound design. Deliberately paced, it flows well from scene to scene; Cronenberg directs with intelligence and purpose. It's also fucking brutal! The unflinchingly shot kills would put most slashers to shame. Effects work on the blood-soaked attacks, especially the vicious fire iron assault, and the strangely hypnotic, nightmarish transition sequences, is top notch.

It's not gonna please everyone obviously, it'll no doubt get its share of naysayers and don't-believe-the-hypers like anything else, but it scored big time with me. And as a die-hard fan of Cronenberg Sr's wildly inventive sci-fi body horror, I feel a giddy sense of excitement for what Brandon has in store; what sights he has yet to show us. Along with Garland, the name Cronenberg is once again becoming a word to conjur with; one that makes my lizard brain gurgle with anticipation.

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