LFF 2020 – Possessor (2020) Review


With Brandon taking on many of his father’s cinematic qualities, Possessor proves that the apple has not fallen far from the tree on the Cronenberg farm.

Appearing in the Cult strand at this year’s London Film Festival, Brandon Cronenberg’s follow up to Antiviral follows an agent who works for a secretive organization that uses brain-implant technology to inhabit other people’s bodies – ultimately driving them to commit assassinations for high-paying clients. However the agent finds herself in trouble when her next subject begins to fight back and resist her control.

Splatters of ultraviolence? Check. Gruesome images of body horror? Check. Mistrust of technology? Check. Brandon is definitely following in his father’s footsteps but clearly has the talent and a voice of his own.

The very, very bloody opening sequence does a sleek and effective job in setting up this world. Showcasing the mechanics of a hitman/woman using another human being as the murder weapon and the Matrix-esque mainframe used hto jack in to their psyche. Think The Manchurian Candidate meets Being John Malkovich.

A slight hitch in the kill has the operative questioning their abilities. Struggling more and more to readjust to her old way of life after each kill, she returns for the age-old

Andrea Riseborough is suitably cold as the assassin unable to disconnect from the job. Witnessing the awkwardness of interacting with her estranged family, she is now more used to portraying other people than herself. Evidenced by the debriefing sessions with minder Jennifer Jason Leigh who shows her objects from her past to help recalibrate her memory.

However the real star of the show is Christopher Abbott. As the chosen vessel for the next job, he not only has to play a man struggling for control of his own mind and body but also at times act as though Andrea Riseborough is playing his character. It is an incredibly complex and layered performance.

It sets up a battle between Possessor and Possessee that takes place in both the physical and psychological worlds. The limits of their fracturing psyches are pushed to the extreme. To a breaking point neither might come back from in an ever-increasing series of fever dreams. Each populated with nightmarish imagery by Cronenberg.

Just like Andrea Riseborough’s mental intruder, Possessor is a film that you will struggle to get out of your head.

Film Rating: ★★★★☆

Director: Brandon Cronenberg
Stars: Andrea Riseborough, Christopher Abbott, Jennifer Jason Leigh
Runtime: 103 minutes
Country: UK/Canada

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