FANS OF MINDFUCK CINEMA shouldn't miss this weekend's screening of a new, uncut 35mm print of Possession, Andrzej Żulawski's 1981 exploration of jealousy and madness. Made in the aftermath of a messy divorce and Żulawski's exile from his native Poland, it's a movie so relentlessly strange and so soul-shatteringly unnerving that it defies synopsis.
But here goes: Anna (Isabelle Adjani) tells her husband Mark (Sam Neill) that she has been seeing someone else. He goes crazy and confronts the lover; she hides out in a secret apartment from both men. When Mark hires a private eye to trail her, something unspeakably horrific is revealed. To say more is both spoilerish and pointless: Possession's plot progresses in a way that can only be interpreted by the subconscious. Dreams become reality and terrors are both vocalized and visualized; the film shifts between Anna and Mark's perspectives so that it's impossible to fully parse the symbolism.
There's a scene of Adjani alone in a Berlin subway station that's one of the most brutal things I've ever seen—she's absolutely incredible in this, and she reportedly had trouble recovering from the role for years. I bet Żulawski did, too; a few years later he took up with an Adjani doppelganger less than half his age named Sophie Marceau.