Great artists don't borrow, they steal. Conceived by Schrader and De Palma after a late night screening of VERTIGO, this is more than just homage. OBSESSION exposes their lifelong predilections and is an early indicator of the filmmakers' artistic bluster. Vilmos Zsigmond’s cinematography and Bernard Herrmann’s score help keep the fragile truce between love and insanity, as tenderness deforms into kinkiness and back.
It's impossible, or at least ill-advised, to review this without mentioning Vertigo, since Obsession borrows not only the general plot, themes, and structure, but certain scenes as well (not to mention Bernard Herrman, who can turn anything dreamlike). But it rises above a mere homage thanks to De Palma's visual artistry and a weirdly compelling Freudian case study on different kinds of love.
A cautionary tale on why it is essential to go to the movies. You see, had Michael Courtland frequented movie theatres in 1958 he'd have seen a nifty little mystery film called Vertigo and figured out in 1976 that the whole wife-coming-back angle was a con job. Granted it hadn't topped Sight & Sound till '72. Still, tells you something about the profits of being even an average Joe movie buff.
Vintage DePalma. It's a male gazey, Hitchcock imitation, pulpy thriller that displays his usual obsession with doubles and doppelgangers of the female variety. Plenty of suspense and kinetic visuals. Surprisingly less bloody than the usual DePalma fare, but no less lurid and thrilling. The whole incest angle predates Oldboy quite nicely.
Vastly underrated Vertigo revisiting.
Beautifully shot by Vilmos Zsigmond, haunting score by the great Bernard Herrmann.
The ultimate De Palma homage to Hitchcock, ending up in a truly heartbreaking way.
In case you can't tell it's a ghost story, the film takes place in the remnants of dead cultures - restored cathedrals, old plantation houses - stunningly shot. De Palma was fair to criticise Cliff, he seems passionless in the crucial middle part, esp. playing off a hammy Lithgow. Then that off quality becomes the point when the film goes where we only dream it might. A little late, but it's enough.