Director: Ivo van Hove
Ivo van Hove (conceived by)
Jan Peter Gerrits (adapted by)
Simon Stephens (English version)
Gijs Scholten van Aschat
Robert de Hoog
Runtime: 180 mins. inc. interval
Australian release date: 29 July 2017
Previewed at: Hayden Orpheum Cinemas, Sydney, on 29 July 2017.
Ivo van Hove’s intense 2016 production of Arthur Miller’s play A View From The Bridge dealt with ‘obsession’ and now he’s gone a step further with this adaptation of James M. Cain’s steamy novel, The Postman Always Rings Twice, by way of Luchino Visconti’s 1943 film, Ossessione. The production was staged at London’s Barbican Theatre in April and May this year and stars Jude Law and Halina Reijn and a mixed cast of British and Dutch actors.
When a handsome vagrant, Gino (Jude Law), arrives at a roadside gas station in the middle of nowhere, he is immediately captivated by Hanna (Halina Reijn), the wife of the misogynist proprietor Joseph (Gijs Scholten van Aschat). Hanna and Joseph are involved in a loveless marriage and Joseph’s abuse has Hanna looking for a way out. She’s ripe for distraction and soon she and Gino are engaged in a torrid affair that leads them to a discussion about their future. As the situation gets more complicated, Gino starts to feel that he’s in over his head. Encounters with a priest (Chukwudi Iwuji, who also plays a police inspector), another drifter (Robert de Hoog) who encourages him to stay ‘on the road,’ and a woman (Aysha Kala) who’s also on the move, add to Gino’s dilemma. He is, after all, a born wanderer, more in tune with the distant sound of the open road than a domestic set-up that requires routine and responsibility.
Obsession is a complex study of erotic passion and Gino and Hanna’s relationship is both symbiotic and troubled. There was great anticipation about Law’s performance (one imagines he was a real draw card) and he doesn’t disappoint. He is mesmerizing, particularly in close-up. Reijn is well cast as his lover and conveys Hanna’s desperate desire for happiness with suitable fervor. Jan Versweyveld’s set design is stark, except for a large truck engine suspended slightly off centre stage. It embodies the hope and despair pervasive in this timeless story of a meeting that is, according to van Hove, “… beautiful, attractive and destructive.” The director has successfully combined Cain’s novel of sexuality and violence with Visconti’s neorealist film version to great effect. Obsession is powerful and compelling and will make you seriously reflect on the old maxim ‘be careful what you wish for…’