Possession

Rated NR

Gifted director Neil LaBute (In the Company of Men, Nurse Betty) gets all literary and costume drama on us by tackling this adaptation of A.S. Byatt’s 1990 novel—LaBute co-wrote the screenplay with noted playwright David Henry Hwang—about a mystery in which two entirely too sexy academics (Gwyneth Paltrow, Aaron Eckhart) discover a forbidden epistolary love between a pair of Victorians (Jennifer Ehle, Jeremy Northam). The juxtaposition of a period romance and a modern one is sorta cool, but a novel about reading letters doesn’t necessarily make a compelling motion picture. And it’s telling that the two buttoned-up lovers from 100 years earlier create more heat than the modern pair. As movies about literary suspense go, it’s much better than Roman Polanski’s The Ninth Gate, a horrible cinematic version of Arturo Pérez-Reverte’s The Club Dumas, but it’s no great shakes either.

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