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Obsessed

 

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Obsessed

Director: Steve Shill
Runtime: 105 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Cast: Idris Elba, Beyoncé Knowles, Ali Larter

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Back in 1994, as part of his ongoing series of reactionary thrillers about dangers that would never pan out in real life (see also: the Japanese economic takeover in Rising Sun), Michael Crichton released Disclosure, which tapped into the fear that career women would use sexual-harassment codes to gain leverage over men. By the time the movie adaptation came out the same year, the idea already seemed as dated as the film’s cheesy virtual-reality sequences. At its core, the whole risible enterprise was just a cover for men who felt threatened by women in the workplace, and the sexual-harassment issue was only a symptom of a more wide-ranging paranoia.

Obsessed is like 1994 all over again, except with an added layer of contemptible racial politics thrown into the mix. It’s still about the horrors of a woman infringing upon the boys’ club of corporate culture, but it’s also a revenge fantasy about interracial relationships, exploiting the regressive stereotype of white Jezebels peeling African-American men away from their wives and families. Doing his best to class up the joint, The Wire’s Idris Elba stars as the perfect man—wildly successful executive at a financial firm, faithful husband and loving father, and seemingly chiseled from a slab of the finest Italian marble. Putting the temp in temptress, Ali Larter subs as Elba’s administrative assistant and immediately works to seduce him; when he resists her subtle advances, she quickly shifts into full-on crazy rabbit-boiling bitch mode.

The action is rigged to set up a showdown between Larter and Elba’s wife, played by a leaden Beyoncé Knowles, but rooting interests between those two are harder to establish than the filmmakers must have intended. Larter is a purely diabolical creature, motivated entirely by the homicidal slut within, but Elba’s castrating wife isn’t much of a prize either; she professes her trust for him, only to forbid him explicitly from working closely with women of any kind. These titans come together for a suitably overheated finale, and Obsessed makes an inadvertent argument for the monastery.