‘Obsession’ series review: Richard Armitage’s erotic thriller squanders its potential and only evokes some embarrassing laughs

‘Obsession’could have been a fascinating study on the effect of social media on a social and political scandal of this magnitude, but Netflix show only manages to compensate the audience with some unintentional comedy

April 18, 2023 02:10 pm | Updated 02:38 pm IST

A still from ‘Obsession’

A still from ‘Obsession’ | Photo Credit: Netflix

After Tiny Beautiful Things, which was disturbing and moving, beautiful people coupling frantically on polished, hardwood floors is just what the doctor ordered as a palate cleanser. So hurrah for Obsession, Netflix’s latest fix for all who have missed Billie’s sweaty shenanigans with her well-endowed men with the end of Sex/Life

Obsession season 1 (English)
Episodes: 4
Runtime: 33- 43 minutes
Directors: Glenn Leyburn, Lisa Barros D’Sa
Cast: Richard Armitage, Charlie Murphy, Indira Varma, Sonera Angel
Storyline: A respectable surgeon’s life comes unstuck in the face of an out-of-control passion for a mysterious young woman

And Richard Armitage! Till now Netflix’s Harlan Coben adaptation regular, the Hobbit actor sinks his teeth into this completely ludicrous show with gusto. Based on Josephine Hart’s 1991 novel, Damage, which was made into a critically acclaimed film of the same name, Obsession is the story of a surgeon, William Farrow (Armitage) who has the perfect life till he meets a mysterious young woman, Anna (Charlie Murphy)

The show begins with William doing brilliant brain surgery on conjoined twins. His beautiful, warm, intelligent lawyer wife, Ingrid (Indira Varma) picks him for a celebration at their so-beautiful home, where their son, Jay (Rish Shah) and his new girlfriend, Anna are waiting to greet them. Sparks fly that only the two characters seem to feel — the audience can get no sense of chemistry between Anna and William.

While Ingrid’s father, Edward (Anil Goutam), who is William’s political mentor, is making plans to launch William into politics, William is busy making cow’s eyes at Anna, who reciprocates with sneery, leery looks. Then it is time for some mild BDSM with Anna firmly saying “It is my choice to surrender to you.” The sex, by the way, is quite toe-curling. All that moaning, thrusting and attendant frowns seem to indicate sex as some kind of rocket science or a complex Ikea assembly.

Anna’s friend, Peggy (Pippa Bennett-Warner) is properly sniffy while Anna’s mother, Elizabeth (Marion Bailey) is furtively disapproving. There is mention of Anna’s brother who died for Love and Jay’s sister, Sally (Sonera Angel) is supportive and strange.

There is a holiday in Paris, a fake conference in Brussels, a stag night, a dreadful tragedy, shame and scandal in the family and ending with a realtor showing yet another lovely house. To think that Obsession is inspired by the same book that created the star-studded Damage! Jeremy Irons plays the obsessed surgeon, Juliette Binoche the object of his passion, Miranda Richardson his wronged wife (she won a BAFTA and got an Academy Award nomination) Rupert Graves his son, Gemma Clarke his daughter and Harry Potter’s Remus Lupin, David Thewlis, a detective.

Obsession could have been a fascinating study on the effect of social media on a social and political scandal of this magnitude. However, it is not that show, and that is not such a significant tragedy as Obsession is good for some embarrassing laughs.

Obsession currently streams on Netflix

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