Thursday, 8 October 2009
I wasn't expecting to like this film. The title is so promising though isn't it? Possession. Possession of what or whom? I suppose that's the central focus of the film. An adaptation of A. S. Byatt's novel of the same name, this film is somewhat of a simplification of Byatt's deliciously long and layered book, which is itself a type of adaptation or amalgamation of previous novels, love stories and authors' lives in fictional form.
Perhaps I was sympathetic to this film because it is a romance about books, the promise of words on a page. Or perhaps because it so eloquently presented the nuances (and sometimes, trials) of academic life. Or perhaps, rather ironically, because it is such a simplification of the original book. I loved the density of Byatt's novel, but I also think that the film highlighted its main themes and questions. The idea that love, like identity, is sometimes a covert pastiche of the stories we have inherited. And from that point of view, can we unravel ourselves like a mystery novel? How well can we truly know another person? This film reminds me that sometimes the most simplistic adaptations of novels can reveal something about the original text.