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.
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.
Creepy and disturbing chiller. The nods to Hitchcock, though affectionate, do become tiresome. There is a kitsch quality, similar to that of some of the Italian Giallo of the same time, which I feel does suit the overall tone well. The ending, in contrast to the rest of the structure, felt rushed and was a let down.
An interesting development of some of Vertigo's themes in terms of male gaze and objectification, nicely signalled in the Florence scenes especially, while the oedipal denouement takes us into the territory of full psychological horror, well played by both Robertson and especially Bujold. But I find the knowing quality to De Palma's approach too much, the incessant score irritating and the overall simply unpleasant.
Brian De Palma is channeling Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo here on virtually every level -- tonally as well as structurally -- but it's done with such skill that you probably won't care. A memorable if somewhat implausible thriller, Obsession is full of twists and turns that will continually keep the viewer guessing right up to the very last frame. Geneviève Bujold is majestic.
This movie has a lot of problems. Sure, De Palma's use of the camera is elegant (in a showy way) and his commitment to telling a cinematic story admirable, but the male lead is a lump of wood and the screenplay doesn't really seem to have a clue what it's trying to do or say, which is shocking when you consider it's by Schrader, who turned in some of the best screenplays of the era. Vertigo this definitely ain't.
A wonderful and distinctive picture which truly comes to life when the action is transplanted from New Orleans to Florence (a nocturnal journey through the city's deserted streets is one of the film's real highlights). The direction is striking whilst a towering score from the great Bernard Herrmann lends the film an almost delirious quality.
Things were better in the 70's, but not to judge from this Hitchcock-influenced twists in the tale distraught, pseudo psychological crime caper. The sound track must have employed every free-lance in Hollywood such is the over-blown, melodramatic assault on our ears which underscores the narrative. The camera angles are gawky and the over-all result is either ' highly stylised' or gauche - no, its gauche.