This brilliant movie was made just over 30 years ago by a Pole, Andrzej Zulawski, and is set in West Berlin at the very beginning of the final decade (the 1980s) of the Cold War. The grim and imposing Berlin Wall is visible from the main window of an apartment inhabited by a small family that's falling apart. The woman of the apartment, Anna (Isabelle Adjani), has just left her husband, Mark (Sam Neill), for another man, Heinrich (Heinz Bennent). The broken couple has a boy who is mostly quiet, is physically vulnerable, and spends a lot of time in the bathtub.
How the breakup happens: Mark, who is a spy, returns home from a secret mission on the other side of the Berlin Wall. He has made a lot of money. His bosses are pleased with his work, with the information he has gathered, with the dark things he has done. Mark now wants to enjoy the pleasures of family life, his beautiful wife, and the world-class city. But while he was away, Anna met another man who is great in bed and is very manly—he has mastered the martial arts and rides a motorbike without a helmet. When Anna informs Mark of the affair, he can't believe his ears and wants to know all of the details: Where does Heinrich live? How long has it been going on? Does she still have any feelings for him?
All of this seems normal enough: Anna is the prize, Mark is the loser, and Heinrich is the victor. But around the film's halfway mark, things start to get weirder and weirder and weirder until we realize that Possession is not about a love affair, or a husband's broken heart, or a family crisis, or even the Berlin Wall, which always looms in the background. It's about the monstrous, inhuman, alien thing at the core of human sexual reproduction. Or at least I think that's what I saw. I can't say for sure. This film is so strange... you have to see it for yourself. Grand Illusion, June 15–17.