In Possessor, an assassin takes control of people’s bodies using brain implantation technology
In Brandon Cronenberg’s Possessor, Andrea Riseborough plays Tasya Vos, an assassin who armed the mind and body of an unsuspecting brand in order to gain access to someone close to them. The film recalls the work of the director’s father, the master of body horror himself, David Cronenberg.
Recently separated, single mom, Vos, is hired by an assassination organization led by the enigmatic Girder (Jennifer Jason Leigh). Their latest mission is to find and liquidate ruthless media tycoon John Parse (a growling Sean Bean in good shape) with the help of his unsuspecting future son-in-law Colin Tate (Christopher Abbott), who works as a technician at Parse Feste.
Using brain implant technology, Vos takes control of Tate’s mind and body and lives his life. She plans to murder Parse and pass it off as a revenge killing caused by a drunken argument between Tate and his fiancée Ava Parse (Tuppence Middleton) at her father’s house. But when Vos delves deeper into her task, she is trapped in Tate’s body and cannot separate from him or finish her mission cleanly.
In his first feature film, Antiviral, Brandon Cronenberg explored celebrity culture in a world where obsessive fans purposely contracted their idols’ illnesses in order to feel closer to them. In Possessor, he examines the physical and social threats to modern technology in the near future, which is dominated by both analog and digital technology. It is a world where big corporations manipulate one another by infiltrating the minds and bodies of those at the top of the food chain in order to destroy them from within.
Murders are portrayed in gruesome and terrible detail, leaving little to the imagination. Brandon Cronenberg shows that you can always rely on people to be able to rely on who they really are and where they come from, no matter how far people are from their physical limitations.
Riseborough is intriguing as Vos and offers a career best. She makes a ghostly figure as her character tries to sit down after each soul-destroying mission. Abbott, for his part, is doing an outstanding and courageous performance in an admittedly demanding role. He plays Tate with the kind of vulnerability and sympathy we’ve come to expect since he appeared on HBO’s popular TV series Girls.
Overall, Possessor feels both fresh and tense and full of twists and turns. It successfully examines our experiences with modern fears and how we deal with them. Granted, this may not be for the faint of heart, but if you are able to endure its better elements, the reward is far higher than enduring another allegory lazy tale.
This really is one of the best and smartest films of the past decade. In a year when most science fiction fans had their hopes placed on Christopher Nolan’s principle to achieve much-needed escapism, Possessor exceeds those expectations by a long way.
Possessor is traveling the US and Canada and is slated to be released in the UK on November 27th.
More on these topics: