Obsessed must be the first film adaptation of a letter to the GQ advice column: “My secretary is obsessed with me! How do I fend off her advances while keeping my Brooks Brothers suits immaculately pressed?” Yes, Obsessed is Fatal Attraction in the Workplace, which means it’s basically the Disclosure of our times, warning us about the rise in sexual harassment against male bosses by their female underlings. Our tale begins with Idris Elba (Stringer Bell from The Wire) and Beyonce Knowles (Yes, Beyonce in her first non-singing role) moving into their new two-storey suburban mansion with their baby son, throwing the ‘For Sale’ into the fireplace whilst they cosy up underneath the mirror on their bedroom ceiling. So you have two extremely fine specimens of the human race in a happy relationship in a beautiful home... it’s too good to be true! I felt the first warning sign of trouble for this movie was the onscreen cast credit “With Jerry O’Connell,” but that’s just me. Thankfully O’Connell provides one of the dumbest lines in the movie as Elba’s frat-boy office colleague during a business meeting where their boss, Bruce McGill, notices the shape of a new female employee:
MCGILL: “Whose legs are those?”
ELBA: “That’s the new office temp.”
O’CONNELL: “More like temp-tress.”
Drinks on the house from the screenwriter because he got PAID for that line!
Yes, Elba is in the elevator to work when he spots Ali Larter from Heroes, they engage in some banter and she “accidentally” drops the manila folders she was holding. I did wonder whether Elba had used Lynx aftershave because this is usually how their commercials depict the consequences of the Lynx Effect. Whilst helping her with the files, Elba looks too long at her legs and the obsession flares up! Soon enough Elba’s secretaries are taking ill with the cold and Ali Larter takes over their duties and she is just TOO EFFICENT – Gasp! Horror! Not since Lara Flynn Boyle in The Temp! Larter knows what type of coffee Elba likes (black, one sugar) and knows that he likes to send flowers to his wife first thing in the working day. Based on the subtlety so far displayed in this movie, I’m surprised they don’t pipe through Gnarls Barkely’s ‘Crazy’ into the soundtrack every time she does something obsessive like burn him some live Crudo bootleg CDS (“Dan the Automator is king!” he writes to her on office chat)! The usual notes are hit with a movie like this: one scene where Beyonce is like “not tonight, honey” because she wants to study, one scene where Elba tells Beyonce that the new office temp is “plain-looking”, and one scene where Beyonce visits the office with her baby boy and sees how pretty the new temp actually is. Larter says hello to the baby but the baby is eerily quiet. As Beyonce says, “That’s strange. He’s usually not this shy around strangers.” Thank goodness babies contain crazy stalker radar – THE SON SENSES SHE’S EVIL! Then Elba walks into the office tea room and finds Ali Larter crying. Here’s some more original dialogue from writer David Loughery:
ELBA: “Why are you crying?”
LARTER: “Oh, allergies...”
ELBA: “What are you allergic to?”
LARTER: [pause] “Men.”
Skip along to Larter “accidentally” bumping into Elba at a upper-class bar while he’s having a beer and a burger, soon enough they’re having “Dirty Martinis” and high-fiving each other, and then it’s the Office Christmas party and they’re standing under Mistletoe surprise surprise, and then Elba goes to the bathroom and Ali Larter follows him into a stall, gyrating against him like a Las Vegas showgirl. Obsessed? This movie should be called Shameless! So, Elba is Trapped in the Bathroom and he’s being a good boy resisting, throwing her aside, and returning home and not telling his wife about the fact his crazy temp tried to sex him up. Then it escalates to Ali Larter jumping into Elba’s car in a trench-coat and revealing she’s only wearing fancy underwear and despite Elba’s protests she won’t listen to reason (she’s obsessed, y’see) and she’s sending him e-mails with multiplying images of herself (thrilling sequence where Elba tries to delete them all whilst his wife is in the same room - quick, delete the JPEGS, String!).
Elba is bugging out and goes to a weekend resort retreat with O’Connell and their boss where Ali Larter is, slipping Rohypnol into his drink and taking advantage of him while he is falling in and out of consciousness in his hotel bed. The next morning, Elba is furious and threatens Ali Larter to which she replies, “Go on. Hit me. You can do anything you want to me.” Finally Elba finds her again in his hotel bed after trying to commit suicide with a punch of sleeping pills. Christine Lahti turns up as a cop investigating the case and finally all of these stalking shenanigans are revealed to Beyonce the dutiful wife who angrily throws Elba out while Larter recovers in hospital. Then Elba is given leave from work because of a possible sexual harassment charge to which Bruce McGill provides one of the funnier lines with his comment, “By now I bet you wished you had banged her for all the trouble she’s causing you.”
Skip ahead to Elba and Beyonce making up, throwing on some classy threads and eating at a classy restaurant whilst Ali Larter breaks into their home and kidnaps their kid, leaving the baby boy in their other car with a love note. NOT COOL, DUDE. So Beyonce helped produce this sucker and her character is pretty much in the background for most of the movie with Elba as the protagonist, but then she steps up to the plate with a close-up of her ringing Larter and leaving this message on her phone: “You think you’re crazy, I’ll show you crazy! Now try me, bitch!” CAAAAAAAN YOU DIG IT? I dig it, movie. Yes, the most generic movie in the world finally takes it up a notch in the climax when Larter breaks into their home again, throwing on Elba’s college football sweater and waiting for him to return home, but Beyonce comes home because she forgot to switch on their security system and she catches Larter in her bedroom and then it is on for young and old. We have a knock-down, clash of the titans, catfight with Beyonce versus Ali Larter as they throw each other around the room and throw each other down the stairs, kicking and clawing like the Switchblade Sisters. They even chase each other up into the top of the house where Beyonce in her brown boots tricks Ali Larter who is swinging a block of wood around the place to step out onto the thin attic floor where Ali Larter falls through, hanging on for dear life. Now we can’t have Beyonce wanting to intentionally kill someone so she snaps out of the Warrior Queen mentality she was going through and offers help, “C’mon, take my hand.” Ali Larter takes her hand, but she’s still a psycho-hose-beast and tries to drag Beyonce down, but Beyonce won’t have that shit, and has to let her go to save her own life, so we have Ali Larter fall down smash bang into a glass table, but she’s still alive! SAY WHAT? Thankfully the chandelier hanging over head breaks and falls with the sharp end stabbing deep into the psycho crazy obsessed stalker’s chest. Elba returns home to find his wife battered but victorious: no woman is going to steal her man or her baby. Then in a profound moment of actor-producer-star fusion the image of Beyonce hugging her man is scored to her song, ‘Crash Into You.’ So, yes, eighty minutes of pure predictability and ten minutes of Beyonce Action Hero awesomeness. I wish they could have just made the whole be about that whole epic beat-down with breaks for more Beyonce songs whilst she and Ali Larter took a breather between punches. In fact, recast Ali Larter with Lady Ga Ga and think about how the Telephone music video could be a feature film extravaganza rather sit through a weekly rental like Obsessed.