Possessor ★★★★

Evocative of tech thrillers such as Beyond the Black Rainbow, Annihilation and eXistenZ, Possessor: Uncut is an audacious and uncompromising piece of filmmaking that could only be done by a Cronenberg. Tasya Vos, played by Andrea Riseborough, works for a company that carries out high profile assassinations using a brain implant technology, which allows her to inhabit someone and weaponize their body. Her work has cost her her soul, which seems to fragment each time her consciousness mingles with another. Recently, her will and rational mind has weakened to the point where she can no longer maintain the same level of control of the bodies she inhabits, which plays out with disastrous consequences when she accepts a job to inhabit the body of a surprisingly strong-willed victim.

Possessor is likely to revolt as many viewers as it inspires awe. It has some hauntingly stunning visuals and practical effects, particularly sequences that symbolize Vos and her unwitting victim's vying for control, which culminates in a scene where we see the victim don her face as a mask, showing that he has not only regained control but also has appropriated her consciousness as well. It also is not for the faint of heart, as it extremely visceral and graphic, particularly in its depiction of violence. Unlike previous films that have generally used body swapping for comedic effect, Possessor looks at just how messed up it is to inhabit someone else's body and to then try to uncouple oneself all the while still trying to keep your consciousness intact.

I'm still processing through a lot of the content in Possessor. Unlike Vos, Cronenberg Jr. is in full control of his craft here, and it is a sight to behold. Much like his father's films, he isn't simply shocking his audiences for the sake of shock; there is a method to the madness of the filmmaking, as he explores topics such as the construction of identity, surveillance, and the sacrificing of personal freedom and autonomy for capital gain. I'm sure Possessor will spark a multitude of interpretations, but one that particularly caught my interest was Peter Debruge's take on the film in an article in Variety:

In a way, Possessor also describes the psychology of actors and what is asked of them when they assume emotionally demanding roles. They too must kill off the characters they inhabited in order to become themselves once again, and they too risk bringing some of that darkness back with them.

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