The third film in recent months to feature a white sexual aggressor coming between a married black couple, "Obsessed" seems to mark a new trend. In "Tyler Perry's The Family That Preys" the villain was an exploitative businessman; in "Not Easily Broken" the threat came from a lonely single mother. "Obsessed" goes them one better by presenting a pretty, shapely blonde who also happens to be a total psychotic.
Those earlier films acknowledged their color lines fairly directly and sometimes humorously, but not "Obsessed." Even when two skin tones begin mingling dangerously, the script utters nary a peep about it. That's odd given that the writer is David Loughery, whose "Lakeview Terrace" delved into racial issues headfirst (if a little clumsily). Then again, maybe "Obsessed" is the first truly post-racial thriller of the Obama era.
At any rate, it's B-grade stuff. Idris Elba and Beyoncé Knowles play Derek and Sharon Charles, a pair of Los Angeles yuppies whose new son is almost as beautiful as their new house. Derek is a top-earner at a financial firm, which is where he meets Lisa (Ali Larter), an attractive temp. "Temp-tress," one salacious co-worker growls.
As Lisa develops a disturbing fixation on Derek, the film becomes a rehash of "Fatal Attraction," though without that film's intriguing gray areas. Everthing in "Obsessed" really is black and white: Derek remains innocent, while Lisa represents the crazy-eyed female. Knowles, as the jealous wife, exists mainly to deepen Derek's victimhood.
With passable acting, uninspired dialogue and timid direction from British director Steve Shill, "Obsessed" makes for a slow-moving, low-wattage thriller. The few sparks don't come until the final showdown between the two female characters. Is there any deeper meaning to this violent clash of colors? "Obsessed" isn't saying.