Apologies for the bump, but I just sat down with OBSESSION for the first time in over a decade. I was kind of knocked out by it.
De Palma’s Hitchcock influence is perhaps as blatant here as it has ever been, but that’s not a critique; the way he remixes (with the aid of Paul Schrader’s screenplay) Hitchcockian ideas and pairs them with his own unique command of visual storytelling results in a powerful cinematic experience.
Having not seen the movie in as many years as it's been, I was struck this time by how confident and - particularly - elegant De Palma’s directorial style is here, especially in contrast to his other release of 1976, CARRIE; CARRIE is certainly the superior film, but De Palma’s hand there feels more steeped in mid-1970s aesthetic choices, whereas OBSESSION looks and feels somewhat more classical in approach.
The film is evocatively shot by the great Vilmos Zsigmond, and he lends the story a slightly dreamlike glow. We also have a pretty remarkable score from Bernard Herrmann (written in the final year of his life) that reaches operatic heights by the conclusion; along with the cinematography and the direction, the music contributes to a haunting quality that the movie has. The narrative progression is undeniably melodramatic, but that’s part of the enjoyment, and the movie culminates in a climax of risky audaciousness and unexpected emotional power. It's one of De Palman's finest closing sequences.
This rewatch has convinced me that OBSESSION is one of Brian De Palma’s more underrated films, and it has now broken into my (ever-fluctuating) Top 10...
10. THE FURY
9. MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE
7. RAISING CAIN (Director’s Cut)
6. CARLITO’S WAY
5. PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE
4. DRESSED TO KILL
3. BLOW OUT
2. THE UNTOUCHABLES
I feel bad for not having a slot for BODY DOUBLE or SISTERS, but so it goes.