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The Bitch is Crazy!

Movie title: Obsessed (2009)
Spoilers ahead: No

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People suffering from mental illnesses may be called “insane” and “sick,” but insanity carries with it a certain “sick” fascination in the eye of the beholder as well. You'd rather be crazy than stupid. Being stupid will get you hated and ridiculed, but being crazy will get you feared and pitied.

How many times driving to or from work have you glanced out your window and seen a man or a woman talking to themselves? Shees, I've seen whole conversations being had with invisible men while waiting at traffic lights, and despite my being surrounded by 2,000 pounds of car, I was still scared! If not scared, I said within myself: “aw, how sad.”

We normal people remind ourselves of how unfortunate having mental illness is, but only after watching an episode of World's Wildest Police Videos and laughing at the nuttiness of some fool running down the street naked or jumping out in front of traffic. Only when we feel guilty for laughing do we so reflect.

My point, you ask? Well, the point is that mental illness is captivating, and that is the only thing that makes Obsessed a worthwhile watch. It's not unique. You've seen the film before when it was called Fatal Attraction (1987), The Crush (1993), etc. The plot is nothing new. It's been done before and done better. The actors (all except Beyoncé Knowles) stand a head and shoulders above the roles they play. True, they might blot this off their resumes in years to come, but it's on them now.

An obsessive but beautiful woman named Lisa (Ali Larter) takes a liking to a well built, strapping man named Derek (Idris Elba). She's a temp. He's an asset manager. They meet at work. The problem for her is, he's married and off the market. That doesn't stop her from making advances, obscene and offensive advances over time as they get to know each other. How things went from casual to too close was one thing first-time director Steve Shill did well. Derek handles these advances so stupidly that you almost start hoping his psychotic admirer ruins him.

As Lisa's wayward wiles begin to affect his marriage, things get worse and worse still, leading to an ugly confrontation between he and his soon-to-be-fired temp. Things hit the fan, and then they keep going. As with the rest of the movie, things would have gone better if Knowles could act, but she can’t, and so I’d advice her to keep singing. The predictable nature of the film, coupled with its crudeness, hurt it badly. There's no spoiling the plot here. The cat is out of the bag.

Obsessed offers a racial dynamic, a soft, still cultural taboo (the beautiful white woman going after the handsome black man, and not the other way around). But more was needed, something catchy, something irresistible, like nudity. Called for was an erotic element here, and that we didn't have. You'd think a lusty lunatic who went so far as to drug the man of her dreams would at least strip him naked and have her way with him, but she doesn't as far as we can tell. There’s no denying it! She’s crazy!

In addition to not being original in plot and being barely mediocre in every other gradable category, we have a nearly B-movie aura, which thankfully, is offset by a “Tales from the Crypt,” horror movie vibe that permeates the entire screenplay. It's like the best B-movie you've ever seen. Good background music helped it along for sure. Bonus points are given both for the feel and the music.

But let's get back to why anyone wants to watch the movie in the first place—because “the bitch is crazy!” That's what makes this worth the watch. As noted in the beginning, it's so darn fascinating to see what the mentally ill are capable of!

Taking into account all of the film's many glaring faults, I couldn't deny that disturbed gut feeling I kept having, as if I was in Derek's shoes with a mad woman making my life miserable. I was compelled to watch only for that reason. Elba and Larter pulled it off well enough to make it watchable and to make me ask myself what I would do if I became the target of a serial stalker. One badly presented “cat fight” with a cursing Beyoncé, a few moments of flat dialogue, and some unlikely social behaviors didn't ruin it for me as it did for some reviewers.

It won't win any awards or be the best film you'll see. It may even be forgettable, but if you're in love with looney, you might just give this one a try.

(JH)

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Grade: C- (2 stars)
Rated: PG-13
Summation: A woman stalks a successful business and family man who turns her away.
Director: Steve Shill
Starring: Idris Elba “Derek,” Beyoncé Knowles “Sharon,” Ali Larter “Lisa,” Jerry O'Connell “Ben,” Bonnie Perlman “Marge,” Christine Lahti “Reese”
Genre: Crime / Drama / Thriller

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