Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.


Illustration for article titled Obsessed

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.