* (out of 5)
April 24, 2009
Idris Elba as DEREK
Beyoncé Knowles as SHARON
Ali Larter as LISA
Jerry O’Connell as BEN
Bruce McGill as JOE
Studio: Screen Gems
Directed by: Steve Shill
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
When I first saw the trailers for “Obsessed,” I thought it looked like a hybrid of the 80s hit “Fatal Attraction” and the 90s Lara Flynn Boyle flop “The Temp.” In retrospect, that was a good assessment. The film uses some of the same conventions of “Fatal Attraction,” but it fails as a decent suspense thriller just as “The Temp” did.
The biggest difference, however, is that “Obsessed” has Beyoncé’s fingerprints all over it. Not only does she have a starring role in the film, as well as providing songs for the soundtrack, but she also steps in as a producer.
This is a dangerous combination… but more on that later.
“Obsessed” tells the story of a beautiful but unstable temp named Lisa (Ali Larter) who targets a powerful man named Derek Charles (Idris Elba). Lisa works her way into being Derek’s assistant, and things start innocently enough with some harmless flirtation. However, soon Lisa becomes obsessed with Derek, crossing many lines of propriety.
Eventually, it becomes clear that Lisa is a danger to herself and others. Even though the police open an investigation into her, Lisa continues to stalk Derek, threatening his family and incurring the wrath of his wife Sharon (Beyoncé Knowles).
There are some decent suspense movie moments, but the film crumbles under the moronic decisions of its characters. The biggest offender in this respect is the character of Derek. Even when Lisa’s advances go beyond reason, he tells no one about the situation. When Sharon finally discovers Lisa in his hotel room, she of course doesn’t believe him.
This leads to a greater problem in the script itself. While Derek and Sharon’s relationship appears to be strong, Sharon is extremely jealous of anyone in the work place, despite the fact that Derek continually claims to only have eyes for her (which, in my experience, is what guys say more insistently when they have a wandering eye). Part of their backstory is that Sharon used to be Derek’s assistant, so she’s very suspicious of any shenanigans in the office.
However, when the cat is out of the bag with Lisa, Sharon kicks Derek to the curb for three months – despite the fact that he never even slept with her. (Heck, at least Michael Douglas’s character got some action in “Fatal Attraction” before the excrement hit the air conditioner.) This is not the actions of a healthy married couple. There seems to be an unwritten subplot that there were fidelity problems in the past. Otherwise, the character of Sharon is painted as a vindictive, manipulative, jealous woman.
Derek is emasculated by both Sharon and Lisa, to the point that the final confrontation happens between the women even though Sharon has been treated as a mere supporting character up to this point. The payoff might be the perfect visceral ending for your aggressive modern woman, but a fine piece of storytelling it is not.