Review: “Brutal Purity of Vision” Dominates ‘Possessor Uncut’

Feature, directed by Brandon Cronenberg, stars Andrea Riseborough, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Christopher Abbott.

Possessor Uncut - Andrea Riseborough. (NEON)
Possessor Uncut, directed by Brandon Cronenberg, is a film that will assuredly frustrate some and repel others. But, for those who cut their film teeth on David Cronenberg’s early works, such as Scanners, Rabid, and Videodrome, Possessor Uncut might be exactly what they are looking for. Before continuing, it must be noted that Brandon Cronenberg isn’t just copying his father’s style, Brandon has his own unique approach, an approach that contains a sort of visceral strangeness.

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Possessor Uncut (NEON)

Possessor Uncut opens as we watch a young woman enter a club and matter-of-factly stab a patron to death. As she finishes stabbing him, her tennis shoes slipping in his blood, she places a gun in her mouth and says “take me out.” This is when the true story is revealed. Tasya Vos (Andrea Riseborough) is an assassin. She uses some shadowy technology to perform corporate assassinations for an even more shadowy company. Tasya’s consciousness is transferred into unsuspecting people to allow her to use them, puppet-like, to secretly perform these assassinations. But, we quickly learn, Tasya was not supposed to stab the man and Tasya is finding it difficult to kill “herself” at the end of a mission. Cracks are forming.

The remainder of the film focuses on these cracks. Tasya is unable to fully separate from her husband and child to become a perfectly remorseless killer. Her increasing breaks from reality and inability to fully control her “puppets” is also a challenge. All of these conflicts are played out in the middle third of this movie as we watch Tasya inhabit Colin Tate (Christopher Abbott).

With Colin as her puppet, Tasya is expected to kill the head of a tech firm, John Parse, played by the ever in-peril Sean Bean. This middle portion of the film, though fascinating to myself, is admittedly not as compelling as the beginning or finale. Abbott’s performance is effective, but it pales next to the magnetic presence of Riseborough, and I kept wishing throughout these sequences that there was a way to see her.

Andrea Riseborough in “Possessor Uncut.” (NEON)

I will not spoil the film, but suffice it to say, the final third of the Possessor Uncut involves the aftermath of Tasya’s hit, her increasing loss of control, and a bloody, visceral, brutal finale that will either leave you grimly satisfied or send you away hating it. Whatever your emotional reaction to the final moments, avid cinephiles are likely to admire Cronenberg’s brutal purity of vision.

Bruce Purkey and fellow Find Your Film co-hosts Eric Holmes and Greg Srisavasdi spotlight the work of director Satoshi Kon:

Ultimately, Possessor Uncut, is a nearly-great movie that hints at possible future-awesomeness from Brandon Cronenberg.

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