August 24, 2009
Review - " Obsessed " - (on DVD) By Roland Hansen
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It’s a classic scenario: Not only has Derek just been promoted to the rank of Executive Vice President, he also has a beautiful
family and a luxurious new house. He’s respected by his colleagues, his superiors trust him deeply, and he has great friends.
Things are going really well.
Then comes the day he enters an elevator and meets Lisa (Ali Larter), a sultry beauty with long blonde hair and a killer
figure. She’s carrying a large amount of paperwork, so much so that she inevitably drops them in a moment of clumsiness.
Derek, trying to be nice, offers to help her out, and that leads to the next inevitable moment - they reach for the same piece
of paper at the same time, resulting in their hands touching. There’s nothing subtle about this. For that matter, there’s
nothing subtle about the entire film, which has no qualms about going for the obvious.
Take, for example, a scene that takes place some weeks after Derek and Lisa first meet: Derek walks into the lounge area
and sees Lisa on the verge of tears. He assumes she’s having boyfriend trouble, and encourages her by saying how pretty
she is and how any man would be lucky to know her. In fact, if he was single ... ah, but he doesn’t finish his sentence. There
are two specific reasons why people do this: (1) some people don’t actually mean it when they say it, so there’s no point in
completing the thought; (2) some people are afraid that they do mean what they’re saying, and therefore don’t want to
incriminate themselves any further. What reasoning do you think Derek followed? Choose whichever one you think applies. I
have a feeling the filmmakers wanted it to be ambiguous.
It isn’t long before Derek regrets ever having met Lisa. In spite of the fact that she’s incredibly efficient (at times frighteningly
so), she rapidly becomes overly friendly, pretty much to the point of intrusiveness. It isn’t until the annual office Christmas
party that things begin taking a darker turn; Lisa takes advantage of the fact that Derek has had one too many and tries to
have sex with him in a bathroom stall. He wards her off, but that doesn’t stop her from trying again the next day, when she
insistently gets into his car as he’s leaving work.
Before I go any further, let me backtrack a bit and talk about Derek’s wife, Sharon (Beyoncé Knowles) acts, for the most part,
like a typical wife and mother. When she first learns that a new female temp is working for Derek, she jokingly chides him for
allowing such a thing to happen. Then the two actually meet, and while it’s too early for Sharon to be suspicious, she
definitely shows concern. Let’s face it - Lisa’s a beautiful woman and Derek is a handsome man. It doesn’t take a genius to
see what could potentially happen and of course we soon find out that she used to be his assistant and since they were
getting it on she assumes he must be banging any female assistant (there sure is alot of trust in that relationship).
As Lisa’s attempts at seduction grow more and more brazen, Derek finds himself in a very awkward position, desperate to
maintain his reputation but even more desperate to distance himself from Lisa. There inevitably comes a point at which
Sharon finds out that something isn’t quite right, that Lisa labors under the delusion that Derek is in love with her. This paves
the way for the final confrontation, which, for me at least, was the weakest section of the film, designed less like a plausible
plot point and more like an excuse to have two women fighting. I have no doubt many will see this movie specifically for this
There are other aspects that don’t work too well, including a strange camaraderie between Lisa and a gay office assistant
named Patrick (Matthew Humphreys). Within the context of this story, I failed to see how this character was necessary - other
than a few stereotypical one-liners and some witty banter, he contributes nothing to the story. There’s also Derek’s office
buddy, Ben (Jerry O’Connell), a sex-hungry party animal who seems to lack the conviction of his personality. He too
contributes nothing to the story. Fortunately, these are side characters that have little bearing on either the central story or
the three main characters, all of which are the most developed components of “Obsessed.” While hardly a masterpiece, it’s
an entertaining thriller that achieved exactly what it wanted to achieve, making money.
The movie is the same movie we've seen
before (Fatal Attraction, anyone?). Beyonce
does fine here in a dramatic role. Ali Larter
overacts a great psycho, but it's Idris Elba who
really gives us the most realistic performance.
Again it’s just the fact we've seen this before.
It might be worth watching just to see the fight
between Beyoncé and and Ali at the end of the
movie, doesn't she know that Ali has super
strength? (or is it that she freezes people now?)
Perhaps Derek should hire Ryden Malby from
"Post Grad". She's beautiful, incredibly efficient
and most important not psychotic.
Directed by: Steve Shill
Starring: Beyonce Knowles, Idris Elba, Ali Larter, Jerry O'Connell,
"Obsessed" is the story of a happily married couple Derek (Idris Elba)
and Sharon (Beyoncé) who move into their new home with their young
son. They are the all american couple with their big house, child and
well paying job. Sharon wants to go back to school and work Derek
wanting her to hold off a while and be at home with the baby. Derek in
the elevator going to his office sees a really hot woman Lisa (played
by the beautiful Ali Larter) who we learn is doing temp work at Derek’s
office. She soon becomes obsessed with Derek throwing herself at him
at the company Christmas party(he rejects her). From here she
becomes psycho on him.
While not as complex or frightening as Adrian Lynn’s “Fatal Attraction,”
“Obsessed” still manages to be moderately entertaining. In one very
crucial way, it breaks tradition with the average domestic thriller: There’
s no infidelity. There’s an awful lot of flirtation, no question, but when it
comes to faithfulness, the married man gets high marks. I’m referring
to Derek Charles (Idris Elba), a Los Angeles asset manager. He
becomes the object of a new office temp’s desire, and as we see over
the film’s 105 minutes, she’ll go to just about any lengths to get what
she’s after. I agree that this is hardly an original premise, and at times,
the film seems more interested in being formulaic than in being
compelling. But at the very least, it makes due with what little it has,
which is to say that it’s perfectly adequate.