Studio: Sony (Screen Gems)
Film Length: 106 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
HD Encoding: 1080p
HD Codec: AVC
Audio: English, French and Portugese Dolby TrueHD 5.1; Spanish DD 5.1
Subtitles: English; English SDH; French; Portugese; Spanish
Disc Format: 1 50GB + 1 DVD-5 (digital copy)
Theatrical Release Date: Apr. 24, 2009
Blu-ray Release Date: Aug. 4, 2009
No bunnies or other small animals are harmed in this obvious retread of Fatal Attraction, but
storytelling sustains a few injuries. The flaws didn't hurt the box office, though. The film
dominated its opening weekend and went on to sell over $68 million in domestic tickets, a nice
haul for a film budgeted at $20 million. The reason for the film's success isn't hard to
understand; it's the star power of its lead actress (and one of six executive producers), Beyoncé
Spoiler alert: I'm not going to worry about giving way plot developments, because you can see
them coming a mile away, and the film's trailer held nothing back. Also, if you've somehow
managed not to become acquainted with a certain 1987 thriller mentioned above and don't want
to hear anything about it, read no further.
A happily married couple played by Michael Douglas and Anne Archer - oops! wrong film.
Derek and Sharon Charles (Idris Elba - yes, the actor formerly known as Stringer Bell on The
Wire - and Beyoncé) have been married three years, have a two-year-old son, Kyle, and have just
moved into a beautiful suburban house. Derek is a high-powered executive at a Los Angeles
money management firm, where Sharon used to be his secretary. On the day of their move, Derek
arrives at his office only to encounter Lisa Sheridan (Ali Larter) in the elevator. Though she's so
well dressed that Derek initially mistakes her for a client, in fact she's a temp assigned to work at
Derek's firm for that day. Taking an instant liking to Derek, Lisa manages to extend her stay to
several weeks, eventually working her way around to Derek's desk when his own secretary (a
man) is stricken with the flu. Sharon Charles is not pleased by this development, having decreed
when she married Derek that he may no longer have female secretaries. Obviously she
remembers only too well how she ended up in Derek's bed.
Lisa uses her proximity to Derek to study him closely, then makes her move at the office
Christmas party. When he rejects her, she tries an even more brazen approach in the building
garage, and he rejects her even more angrily. All along, though, Derek hesitates to tell his wife,
because he doubts she'll believe him. He is on the verge of telling his company's HR department
when he learns that Lisa has quit.
But we all know that movie psychos never just leave. Lisa follows Derek on a company retreat to
a fancy resort, where things get seriously out of hand. Lisa is hospitalized with an overdose of
pills, and everything becomes public. A police detective (a marvelously restrained Christine
Lahti) begins investigating Derek's and Lisa's conflicting stories. Derek gets backbenched at
work, and Sharon throws him out of the house.
When Lisa is released from the hospital, a family member takes her north to recuperate. Three
months pass, and Sharon gradually warms to the idea of letting Derek move back in. Guess who
shows up? After announcing her presence (and restoring Derek's credibility all around) by
staging a mock kidnapping of baby Kyle, Lisa plots her reunion with Derek through a series of
strategies and slips that will have even the most tolerant viewer yelling, "Oh, come on!" at the
screen. The result is a final confrontation between Sharon and Lisa and a well-staged, brutal fight
to the death between a determined woman and the intruder who wants to destroy her family. One
must give the film its due, because it knows what the audience wants, and in the end it
despatches the evildoer with suitable panache (and just barely a PG-13 rating).
Many reviews of Obsessed commented on the fact that, unlike Michael Douglas' character in
Fatal Attraction, Derek doesn't carry the burden of having cheated on his wife. But the film
hands him alternative moral baggage, because his co-worker (Jerry O'Connel) and boss (Bruce
McGill) are constantly reminding him that he used to have an eye for the ladies in the office and
married one of them. Still, the real difference between Obsessed and Fatal Attraction isn't the
husband's situation but the role of the wife. Indeed, Obsessed looks back to the original version
of Fatal Attraction, which ended with Michael Douglas' character jailed for allegedly murdering
Glenn Close's Alex Forrest, and the wife, played by Anne Archer, holding the evidence that
could clear her husband and having to decide what to do with it. Obsessed takes this notion of the
wife as the decisive actor but puts it in the same context that required reshoots for Fatal
Attraction: the audience's need to see a decisive battle with the enemy. In the earlier film, the
combatants were Douglas and Close, whose bodies had already been colliding throughout the
film. But in Obsessed, Beyoncé moves to center stage for the third act, because she's the one they
really came to see.
In so shifting the players, however, Obsessed creates a different moral dilemma that the film
can't quite skate over. Who is Lisa, after all, but an unsuccessful version of Sharon? When
Sharon fights off Lisa, who is she repelling other than a woman who, like her, developed an
attachment to a man in the workplace and now wants to leave it and live with that man (the only
difference being that the man isn't interested)? In the confrontation that concludes Obsessed, it's
possible to see not opposites so much as mirror images. But that's not a road the film wants to
Idris Elba is an exceptional actor, and he brings the same conviction to Derek that he brings to all
his parts. Obsessed may not be worthy of his talents, but that doesn't mean he's going to phone it
in. Beyoncé is growing as an actress, and although her work here isn't nearly as interesting as her
work in Cadillac Records, it's because Sharon Charles isn't nearly as interesting a character as
the singer Etta James.
Ali Larter does a perfectly acceptable job as the crazed Lisa, but perhaps her biggest accomplishment
is to make you appreciate the truly extraordinary work that Glenn Close did when she created Alex
Forrest in Fatal Attraction. In both instances, the script provided no backstory, no explanation for the
audience of how a normal-seeming, high-functioning person came to be so desperate that she could
retreat into a fantasy world and commit extreme acts of violence. Nevertheless, Glenn Close
somehow managed to convey the sense of a real person who had lived an actual life before we
meet her in the film, even without our learning any explicit background about the character. Close's
achievement is a large part of why Fatal Attraction succeeded and why it still holds up. Because
only a small handful of actors have abilities of such magnitude, it is not a criticism to observe that
Ali Larter isn't able to match Close's achievement. Her Lisa is a stock movie psycho, and ultimately
we don't believe in her as anything but a plot function. The result is that she isn't nearly as
frightening or as memorable as Alex Forrest was. Unlike Alex, she can be ignored, at least after
the film ends.
One other element must be noted, because it's an elephant in the room. The married couple in
this film is African-American, and the woman who intrudes upon them is white. Since this is
America, a denial that this has any significance would be naive. At the same time, anyone who
claims to know definitively what that meaning is will be mistaken, because it will vary depending
on who you are. One reviewer actually insisted that the casting of Elba and Larter was intended
to call up memories of O.J. and Nicole Brown Simpson - which says a lot about that reviewer
but very little about the film. Talk among yourselves. Better yet, look inward.
The 2.40:1 image is very clean and detailed, with solid blacks and no evidence of artificial
sharpening or noise reduction. The color palette tends toward the cool and blue side in the office
environment and toward the warmer side in the Charles home. All of this is well reproduced on
the Blu-ray. I did not see the film theatrically, but I have no reason to think that this transfer is
anything but accurate.
The Dolby TrueHD track is nicely detailed with a clear but not overemphatic surround presence.
The dialogue is key, and the surrounds are used mostly to differentiate among environments.
The most interesting element of the special features is what's missing. Unless my attention
wandered and I missed it (which is possible), no one so much as mentions Fatal Attraction, the
film of which Obsessed is so obviously a remake. I suspect that legal considerations are involved,
but the omission is striking.
Playing Together Nicely (15:37). This is a the usual making-of featurette. The only significant
insight is that the idea for the film came from the head of Screen Gems, thereby assuring that it
would be made.
Girl Fight (11:13). A featurette focusing on the climactic confrontation between Beyoncé's and
Larter's characters. Both actresses had fun.
Obsessed: Dressed to Kill (9:30). Interviews with the cinematographer, costumer designer and
Trailers. In addition to the inescapable Sony on Blu-ray trailer, the disc includes trailers for Not
Easily Broken, Cadillac Records, The Da Vinci Code Extended Cut, Lakeview Terrace, The
Pursuit of Happyness, Stomp the Yard, First Sunday and Seven Pounds.
BD Live. As of the time of this review, the disc's BD Live feature was not yet available.
Digital Copy. A downloadable copy of the film for PC and Mac.
Obsessed is trash, but that's not a condemnation. A lot of enjoyable films are trash, including (in
my opinion) Fatal Attraction, the film on which Obsessed is based, whether or not the
filmmakers choose to admit it. I own and enjoy dozens of trashy films, and I'm never ashamed
when some friend spots one on a shelf and demands to know, "What is that doing here?" With
time, trash can even become a classic. (I remember when Dirty Harry was considered trash.) I
don't think that'll happen with Obsessed, but if you're a Beyoncé fan, you'll probably enjoy the
film. I certainly can't fault the presentation.
Equipment used for this review:
Panasonic BDP-BD50 Blu-ray player (TrueHD decoded internally and output as analog)
Samsung HL-T7288W DLP display (connected via HDMI)
Lexicon MC-8 connected via 5.1 passthrough
Sunfire Cinema Grand amplifier
Monitor Audio floor-standing fronts and MA FX-2 rears
Boston Accoustics VR-MC center
Velodyne HGS-10 sub
Edited by Michael Reuben - 8/1/2009 at 05:03 pm GMT