AS Byatt’s 1990 Booker Prize-winning Possession is adapted here for the screen to sumptuous effect. Academic researchers Michell (Eckhart) and Bailley (Paltrow) warily join forces to explore evidence that revered Victorian poet Ash’s (Northam) most accomplished work, historically accepted as love poems to his wife, may have been inspired by another woman – poet Christabel LaMotte (Ehle). Just one of the themes of this elegant story of love that moves between two couples in two time periods, is how social mores influence the roles of men and women.
Possession is intended as a comment on love and how we make it, about things that are timeless and things that are affected by convention. Possession is an intelligent literary mystery story. Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle
One of the real triumphs of the movie is the manner in which LaBute transitions from the present to the past (and back again). The approach is simple, elegant, and effective. Although LaBute goes to some lengths to emphasize the connections between the two love stories, he also stylistically italicizes the differences. Its interesting to note that the present-day romance is developed primarily through words while the past-tense one is defined though gestures and images. James Berardinelli ReelViews
His previous films – In The Company Of Men, Your Friends And Neighbours and Nurse Betty – have been provocative and coruscating studies of human nature, laced with violence, misogyny and dark humour. However, Possession has evidently mellowed LaBute, because his film is both delicate and beautiful. Tiscali.reviews