Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

OBSESSION


OBSESSION (1976). Director: Brian De Palma.

Michael Courtland (Cliff Robertson) loses his wife (Genevieve Bujold) and daughter when a kidnapping/ransom goes awry and they apparently die in a burning vehicle. Many years later Courtland meets a young woman, Sandra (also played by Bujold) in Europe who is the spitting image of his wife and falls in love with her, bringing her back to the states. But who is Sandra really? While this is nowhere in the league of its obvious model, Hitchcock's Vertigo, on its own terms it's a credible thriller. Paul Schrader's screenplay is weak on characterization, however. Also, the fact that Courtland has no suspicions concerning Sandra minimizes the film's suspense and mystery factor. The best performances come from Bujold and John Lithgow as an associate of Courtland's; Robertson is comparatively somnambulistic and passionless. Handsomely produced. Outstanding cinematography from Vilmos Zsigmond. Great score by Bernard Herrmann, even if it's a little "too much" at times. Very well directed by De Palma.

Verdict: No Vertigo, but not without interest. ***.

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