Possession

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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