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  Obsessed Beyoncé Beat-DownBuy this film here.
Year: 2009
Director: Steve Shill
Stars: Idris Elba, Beyoncé Knowles, Ali Larter, Jerry O'Connell, Bonnie Perlman, Christine Lahti, Nathan Myers, Nicolas Myers, Matthew Humphreys, Scout Taylor-Compton, Richard Ruccolo, Bryan Ross, Nelson Mashita, Bruce McGill, Ron Roggé
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Derek Charles (Idris Elba) has it all, a beautiful and loyal wife, Sharon (Beyoncé Knowles), a baby son he is immensely proud of, a huge new home to keep them in, and he is high up on the corporate ladder at work that pays handsomely. Things could not be better, but he has reckoned without fickle fate bringing Lisa (Ali Larter) into his life, the new temp at the office; he is friendly to her, jokes around a bit but leaves it at that, not realising he has triggered a fixation on him in her. It starts small, with Lisa being very attentive to his needs at work, but once he finds her in tears in the canteen and offers her a shoulder to cry on, however briefly, it proves all the excuse she needs to start behaving... obsessed!

One of megastar Beyoncé's attempts to find an even half-decent big screen vehicle for her talents, this was held up as an object of ridicule from around the point the trailer was released, as it depicted what everyone wanted to see, or at least what the producers thought everyone wanted to see, the Queen B turning violent. She didn't go full Arnold Schwarzenegger or anything, but the whole movie was one long, long lead up to the sequence where the story's heroine and the story's villain went head to head, and fist to fist, which in effect proved to be its undoing. This was because the entire audience were all too aware of where we were leading up to since it had been in every item of publicity.

Therefore to observe there were no surprises in Obsessed was stating the obvious in itself, it might as well have been called Beyoncé Whups Ass for all the subtlety on display. If against all sanity you were anticipating a sensitive look at mental illness and the best way to deal with it, you would be assuredly disappointed thanks to the script taking its cue, and more, from the eighties adultery blockbuster Fatal Attraction, not a film known for its sensitivity when it came to tastefully handling psychosis. Lisa is round the bend, that much was clear, but the reasons behind that, what set her off, any attempt to give her a three-dimensional state of mental breakdown were utterly ignored in favour of rendering her a lust crazed maniac.

Yet funnily enough, perhaps to avoid rip-off charges (so much for that), the plot did not have Derek actually being seduced by Lisa, never mind vice versa, as he was the picture of innocence throughout, practically to the point of a saintly halo appearing above his head when his suffering began. In that way it appeared the film had as much been influenced by the Michael Crichton adaptation Disclosure which had poor, meek little Michael Douglas being sexually harassed by that monster Demi Moore despite never having done anything to lead her on, the difference being that Lisa was on a low rung of the company and Moore had been a rabid career woman. This left a bunch of scenes where Derek rebuffed every advance yet still managed to get chucked out of his house by Sharon when Lisa made her moves more apparent.

Quite why Sharon was not an understanding partner to Derek was never explored, other than to indicate she had quite the temper as preparation for that battle at the climax. In Glenn Close style, the bad girl frames the object of her preoccupation with a suicide attempt (OK, that bit was cut out of Fatal Attraction, but it's a well-known deleted sequence), whereupon the police get involved in the shape of detective Christine Lahti but refuse to listen to his denials that he ever had an affair with the crazy lady. If impatience had not completely overtaken you by this point, Lisa ramps up the tension by breaking into the Charles residence twice, which resulted in that unseemly brawl as Beyoncé and Ali and their stuntwomen took part in a house-demolishing punch-up as the former landed quips like "I'ma wipe the floor wit' yo skinny ass!" while she did precisely that. The racial and sexual politics were best not pondered, the film barely grasped them itself, and in the end this was all about the end where violence is the solution. Not anybody's finest two hours. Music by Jim Dooley.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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