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They say love can make you crazy. But what if you already are?
Take, for instance, Lisa—a pretty office temp working for the California investment firm Gage Bendix. On the surface, she seems normal enough. But say "hi" to her in the hallway and she might think you're a "couple." Ask about her health, and she'll be shopping for bridal patterns. And if you make the egregious mistake of trying to talk her down from a crying jag by mentioning that any guy would be lucky to have her—well, now you're in "'til death do us part" territory. Literally.
Perhaps Derek's first mistake when he met Lisa was that he didn't dial 911 and run. Instead, when she (ahem) accidentally drops a pile of papers, he helps her pick them up. When she makes him a CD, he listens to it. When she orders him a dirty martini, he drinks it. So, even when she follows Derek into a men's bathroom (for sex) and he says, essentially, "No, no, no, stop it, get away from me you crazy woman!" Lisa thinks he's just playing hard to get.
Yes, Lisa loves Derek the same way a match loves aerosol spray—a problematic pairing under any circumstances, but particularly troublesome considering the fact that Derek is happily married to Sharon (his former admin) and they have a little, cute-as-a-LOLcat kid of their own. "The three of you should be on the cover of a magazine," Lisa says, shellacking a smile onto her scheming face.
In Lisa's mind, of course, Sharon and the kid are anchors Derek needs to jettison to be truly happy—with her, of course. Lisa's sure she and Derek are meant to be together. They are perfect for each other. They are bound by an eternal love that no rule of man or God can sever, and she will make sure that she connives her way into Derek's strong, loving arms, one way or another. Like a paragraph with seven italicized words in it, she will certainly not be ignored.
When Derek attends an off-site conference, Lisa follows him there and tries to seduce him. (To her, the roofies she slips in his drink just add to the romance of it all.) Then she finagles her way into Derek's hotel room, climbs in bed naked and takes a bottle full of prescription pills.
Yeah, attempted suicide's hard to ignore, all right. Paramedics and police have a knack for attracting attention, and Sharon—who knows nothing of Lisa's "relationship" with her hubby—must make what she can out of Derek's seemingly paltry excuse:
"Honey, I have no idea how this naked, unconscious woman got into my bed!"
[Note: The following sections include spoilers.]
Derek probably should've told Sharon about what Lisa was doing right off the bat. And he should've built up a few more hedges to keep things a bit tidier. But despite Lisa's flamboyantly flattering attentions and the passive egging on of his co-workers, he remains completely faithful to Sharon.
"Where's your holiday spirit?" Derek's friend Ben asks him during a Christmas party, when Lisa's coming onto Derek like a 350-pound Powder Puff linebacker.
"With my wife and kid," he answers.
When the whole situation blows up in Derek's face, you could fault Sharon for not trusting her man. But you can also appreciate her dilemma. After all, she was Derek's assistant at work, too, before they fell in love. And she knows that Derek was quite the ladies' man before they got married three years previous. All this illuminates an important truth: What you do—even when you're young—can come back around to not only define you but also box you in. (So watch what you do.)
Furious with Derek for not telling her about Lisa—and believing that he's been sleeping with Lisa—Sharon kicks him out of the house for a while. But she refuses to consider divorce. "I don't come from a family of divorce," she says, adding that her own parents have been married for 30 years.
That resolve—coupled with his perseverance and patience—leads to them patching things up.
It's implied that Derek and Sharon share a sexual moment on the floor of their new home's master bedroom. (The scene cuts after a bit of mildly suggestive conversation and a few images of them cuddling together on the carpet.)
As if somehow yearning for his bachelor days, Derek at first finds himself somewhat attracted to the temp—or, as Ben says, "temptress." Derek, Ben and others in the office ogle her legs and backside. And when Lisa and Derek cross paths at an office Christmas party, they dance together. (He walks away when she starts to get a little dirty.) Spying mistletoe, she begs for a kiss. (He refuses.) And she follows him into a men's room stall, wildly pawing at him every which way while trying to pull off his and her own clothes. (He eventually pushes her out—once the restroom is clear of other occupants.) "No" still doesn't mean no to Lisa, though. And it's not long before she's climbing into his car and stripping down to her underwear to try to change his mind. (He covers her up and forces her out the door.)
It goes on like this for quite some time. And it culminates with Lisa drugging Derek's drink, slinking into his hotel room, caressing his face and torso, climbing on top of him and, apparently, spending the night with him while he sleeps it off. She e-mails him risqué (clothed) photos of herself.
It's quite a test for any man, especially one who's had a past, as it were. So it's worth noting again, here, that Derek sets a great example for those with wandering eyes who might decide to fix them on this film.
Derek's workmates and boss, on the other hand, are no help at all. Most seem pretty tolerant of office hanky-panky. They discuss lap dances and bare breasts with relish. Ben suggests his own marriage won't change his philandering ways permanently. "I'm just on the bench," he says, "waiting to play again."
A running joke is made of Derek's administrative assistant, who declares himself to be homosexual. Both Sharon and Lisa wear low-cut outfits, and we see Lisa in various stages of undress. Derek spends several scenes shirtless—including those in which he's getting into bed with Sharon.
Derek gets progressively more irate with Lisa's sexual harassment and, in frustration, he shakes her and pushes her against a marble pillar during a confrontation.
"Hit me," Lisa says longingly. "You can do anything you want with me."
That night, Derek finds Lisa in his bed, unconscious and nearly dead.
Then, for the film's finale, Sharon and Lisa get into a knock-down drag-out battle royal. They thoroughly pummel each other with lamps, lumber, fists and feet. One woman dangles the other over a balcony railing. And the fight ends with somebody falling through the attic floor. She crash-lands on a glass coffee table moments before a giant chandelier smashes down on top of her.
Crude or Profane Language
Four s-words. God's name is abused about a dozen times (several times with "d--n"). Jesus' name is roughly interjected two or three times. Lesser offenses include "b--ch" and "a--."
Drug and Alcohol Content
Derek brags that in his younger days he used to throw back drinks like a Viking—not that he's exactly a teetotaler now. Sharon makes a reference to the last Christmas party when he "got drunk," and shortly before this year's party, we see him drink a beer, then reluctantly accept the dirty martini Lisa orders for him. Before the night's out he's downed three martinis and a shot of tequila. He drives home and heaves a sigh of relief when a police car cruises by him, lights flashing.
He chugs drinks during an offsite conference, too—the last of which Lisa spikes with some sort of date rape drug. The next night he wises up, and we see him turn down wine in favor of ice tea.
Sharon and Derek share bottles of wine and champagne, and Lisa opens up her own bottle of bubbly after she breaks into Derek's house. Lisa overdoses on prescription pills.
Other Negative Elements
Lisa kidnaps Sharon and Derek's son, then leaves him in Derek's parked car.
Obsessed shimmies onto screens without pretension. It is what it is: a Fatal Attraction rip-off meant to give Beyoncé Knowles a little more play at the multiplex. It's loaded with girl-fight paybacks, buoyed by booze and overflowing with sexually charged themes.
But all that aside for a moment, Obsessed offers a surprise or two: Unlike Attraction, where the male protagonist really did sleep with his obsessive paramour, Derek stays chaste (if not strictly adhering to Victorian-era virtue). More importantly, the film gives us a few salient marriage tips—from avoiding even the appearance of impropriety before and after your vows, to being completely truthful with each other, even if the truth is embarrassing. It suggests that marriages are worth saving, never mind how emotionally compelling a split might seem.
What? A movie that thinks marriages—even flawed ones—are really supposed to be lifelong bonds? That's an obsession worth absorbing. It's just the rest of the film that's not.