Maybe I’m the only one who remembers The Temp, a thriller that came out 16 years ago and starred Timothy Hutton as a successful business executive who is hit on and threatened by his crazy secretary. I’m guessing the makers of Obsessed are hoping audiences will have forgotten about The Temp, as well as Fatal Attraction, Disclosure and all the other movies they ripped off.
Beyonce Knowles plays the wife of a successful asset manager (Idris Elba), who becomes the target of the company’s hot, mentally unstable new temp (Ali Larter). Even something this unoriginal could have been exciting and suspenseful but, with frequent music montages that feel like mini-Beyonce music videos, you sometimes wonder if the filmmakers forgot they were making a thriller.
I like Elba a lot on The Office, where he plays the exasperated superior of Steve Carell’s boneheaded character, but in this movie he tries to punch up his rotten dialogue by overacting and winds up looking foolish. He has more onscreen intensity with Carell than Larter, who comes off like a graduate from the Sharon Stone School of Vamp Acting. Knowles, a gifted singer, once again shows us why not all pop divas should become actresses. During a tense shouting match with Elba, she looks like she’s about to break out into “Irreplaceable.” Instead, she tells her husband to move out, he asks where he should go and, I swear, this is what she tells him: “To hell…or the Four Seasons!” Remember, this isn’t a comedy.
Some potentially potent themes hover over the movie but are never addressed, including the obvious issue of an interracial, extramarital office affair (which Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever handled in a daring, provocative manner almost 20 years ago). There are lots of plot holes and vague details, like how Larter is apparently poisoning co-workers so she can keep working at the same firm as Elba. Also, why would Larter get someone she’s stalking to love her by kidnapping his child? Because she’s crazy, right? Then why does she vanish for a long music montage where we see Elba trying to win back his wife? Was Larter on psychopath sick leave?
Much has been made of the climactic showdown between Knowles and Larter. Forget The Hand That Rocks the Cradle—this is more like Alien vs. Predator, as the two smack each other with wooden two-by-fours, slam into walls and crash through a floor. It’s like watching Battle of the Pseudo-Actresses, and a so-stupid-you-gotta-see-this, camp classic set piece that is the only thing audiences will remember about this stinker. MTW