Television

Intriguing Culture Clashes Drive Mysterious Possessions

HBO Max’s murder thriller miniseries is all over the map—in a good way.

|

Possessions. Available now on HBO Max.

I'm generally skeptical of anything Hollywood calls "multicultural." It's usually a cover phrase for "objectively without value except for raising your social-justice score."

But HBO Max's new six-hour suspense thriller Possessions is genuinely about as multicultural as you can get: a French production shot in Israel, in French, Hebrew and English (There was probably a producer in charge of nothing but subtitles); a murder mystery underpinned by Old Testament theology; a tirade against both Arab and Jewish superstitions, except, the superstitions might actually work; an encyclopedia of sexual kinks; a training manual on Israeli police science (detective to wife whose husband has just been savagely murdered: "How was sex with him?"); and, most sobering of all, an etiquette handbook for wedding receptions. Consider this tip: When the bride and groom are cutting the wedding cake with a sharp knife, never ever turn the lights off. You'd be surprised what could go wrong.

This last one is the key to Possessions' basic scenario. Young Nathalie (French actress Nadia Tereszkiewicz—like most of the cast, virtually unknown to American audiences), a French expatriate living in Israel, has just minutes ago married her Israeli boyfriend, Eran (Imri Biton), and they're ready to cut the cake. But the lights go out for a moment, and when they return, what's sliced is not the cake but Eran's throat. The knife is still in Nathalie's hand, slathered in gore.

The culprit seems obvious, especially to the lethargic crew at the police station where Nathalie is taken. But one detective, Esti (Noa Koler), after first believing in Nathalie's guilt ("Cute girls have dark days too"), begins to think there may be at least extenuating circumstances. A physical exam reveals a brutal cross-hatching of bruises and cuts on Nathalie's legs and back. Then there's the coroner, who says the angle of the slash on Eran's throat makes it obvious the killer was left-handed. But Nathalie is a righty.

And as the cops, spurred on by the hard-charging Esti, begin interviewing witnesses, the story gets more erratic. Some of them saw a loud confrontation between Nathalie and her family, minutes before the ceremony, in which the family (particularly her belligerent and seemingly half-crazy mother Rosa, played by Dominique Valadié), demanded that the wedding be called off. Reason: unclear. Also puzzling—that smear of Nathalie's blood on a ballroom toilet, which was left before the carnage at the cake-cutting. What happened in there? Nathalie says she can't remember, pretty much her answer to all questions, except for the one about how the sex was with her fiancé: "Awesome."

Into the middle of this cacophony of confusing, contradictory clues wanders Karim (Reda Kateb), a French vice-consul of Algerian descent, who is supposed to merely be making sure that Nathalie is not being worked over by some Israeli version of Bull Connor. Instead, he falls for her, possibly because she's winningly vulnerable and possibly because she's manipulating him. (He's aware of, and torn between, both possibilities.) Soon he's running down leads, questioning witnesses and even chasing clues overseas. He's mystified by what he regards as the apathy of Nathalie's family members; they, by his fascination for a case that's really none of his business. "What is your job, exactly?" demands her father after Karim breaks into a building in pursuit of Nathalie.

That's not the only befuddling thing in Possessions. Much of it revolves around cultural confusion and miscommunication: between French and Israelis, between Israelis and Arabs, between Orthodox and Reform Jews, between estranged parents and siblings, between young and old.  The characters are so isolated and, often, alienated, from one another that the early hours of the show have an almost surreal sense of aimlessness, like a jigsaw puzzle with most of the pieces missing.

But as they start to fill in, and the story starts to reach backwards, Possessions turns from weirdly fascinating to just plain fascinating. When a young Arab steals Nathalie's wedding dress to hang in a tree in his back yard, his explanation to the cops is simple: He did it to ward off demons. But what demons? The man just shrugs helplessly. They may not know what or why, but everyone in Possessions knows something evil is on the loose.

NEXT: Should Legal Restrictions Get Credit for the Recent Decline in New COVID-19 Cases?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Consider this tip: When the bride and groom are cutting the wedding cake with a sharp knife, never ever turn the lights off. You’d be surprised what could go wrong.

    Ok, really? This old mystery pot-boiler trope? The lights when out, there was a scuffle, a scream, and when they came back on…

    1. I quit working at shoprite and now I make $65-85 per/h. How? I’m working online! My work didn’t exactly make me happy so I decided to take ger a chance on something new… after 4 years it was so hard to quit my day job but now I couldn’t be happier.

      Here’s what I do…….. Visit……….. Visit Here

      1. Making money online more than 15$ just by doing simple work from home. I have received $18376 last month. Its an easy and simple job to do and its earnings are much better than RBG regular office job and even a little child can do this and earns money. Everybody must try this job by just use the info
        on this page……..MORE READ

        1. I get paid 95 $ each hour for work at home on my PC. I never thought I’d have the option to do it however KUW my old buddy is gaining 65k$/month to month by carrying out this responsibility and she gave me how.

          Give it a shot on following website……..VISIT HARE

          1. Yeah it`s Possible…Anybody can earn 250$+ daily… You can earn from 6,000-12,000$ a month or even more if AQsw you work as a full time job…It’s easy, just follow instructions on this page, read it carefully from start to finish… It’s a flexible job But a good eaning opportunity…….

            >>>>>>>>>>>>> Home Profit System <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

            1. Google pays for every Person every hour online working from home job. I have received $23K in this month easily and I earns every weeks $5K to 8$K on the internet. say Every Person join this BTds and working easily by open just open this website and follow instructions
              COPY This Website OPEN HERE….

              >>>>>>>> Home Profit System <<<<<<<<<

      2. Making money online more than 100$ just by doing simple work from home. I have received $18,376 last month. Its an easy and simple job to do and its earnings are much better than regular SVjl office job and even a little child can do this and earns money. Everybody must try this job by just use the info…

        Visit>>>>>>>>>>> Home Profit System<<<<<<<<<<<

        1. Every month I am earning online more than $28,650 by doing a very simply online job from my home. EGuk By doing this in my part time I was able to save enough to buy me a new car in just a few months. This is so freaking easy that everyone should try it… Start making some dollars online today by following instructions on this website……..

          >>>>>>>>>>>>>> Home Profit System <<<<<<<<<<<<<

    2. Do you wanna earn money without investing money? That’s how I started this job GFB and Now I am making $200 to $300 per hour for doing online work from home.

      Apply Now here…….. Visit Here

    3. [ PART TIME JOB FOR USA ] Making money online more than 15$ just by doing simple works from home. I have received $18376 last month. Its an easy and simple job to do and its earnings are much better than regular officeCVF job and even a little child can do this and earns money. Everybody must try this job by just use the info
      on this page…. Visit Here

    4. last month my pay check was 2000 dollars just working on the laptop for a few hours.Every person can now makes good income online easily by just follow instructions on this link…….USA TOP ONLINE JOB.

    5. HBO Max’s murder thriller miniseries is all over the map—in a good way.I’m generally skeptical of anything Hollywood calls multicultural. It’s usually a cover phrase for objectively without value except for raising your social-justice score……..MORE DETAIL.

    6. Do you wanna earn money without investing money? That’s how I started this jobYHTY and Now I am making $200 to $300 per hour for doing online work from home.

      Apply Now here…….. Visit Here

    7. Hijacking an early comment –

      Does Flagging comments actually do anything? The spam is simply out of control!

    8. [ PART TIME JOB FOR USA ] Making money online more than 15$ just by doing simple works from home. I have received $18376 last month. Its an easy and simple job to do and its earnings are much better than regular office job BVGM and even a little child can do this and earns money. Everybody must try this job by just use the info
      on this page…. Visit Here

  2. I’m generally skeptical of anything Hollywood calls “multicultural.” It’s usually a cover phrase for “objectively without value except for raising your social-justice score.”

    Nice. Also code for “no one watches it except Salon writers”

  3. a French production shot in Israel

    Boycott Israel!

  4. cultural confusion and miscommunication: between French and Israelis, between Israelis and Arabs, between Orthodox and Reform Jews, between estranged parents and siblings, between young and old.

    Trump supporters and regular people.

    1. Open position for everybody! Work from solace of your home, on your PC And you can work with your own working hours. You can work this work As low maintenance or As A regular work. You can procure from 65$ An hour to 1000$ A day! There is no impediments, everything depends from you And the amount you need to acquire every day……… Detail OF Work

  5. [FOR USA ] 
    Making money online more than $15k just by doing simple work from home. I have received $18376 last month. Its an easy and simple job to do and its earnings are much better than regular office job and even a little child can do this and earns money. Everybody must try this job by just use the info on this page Click this link For Full Detail……  Click On Here

  6. Do you want to earn cash online from your living room, easily work with a laptop for a few hours a day, earn 550-650 euros a day and get paid every week by deciding on your working hours? it is all true and completely changed my life. Then try this..READ MORE

  7. We have formally relaunched YesPornPlease with a large number of recordings, channels for pornography adoring network. In the event that you love free full-length HD pornography recordings, that YesPornPlease can offer, at that point this cylinder site is for you. Snap and appreciate most sultry XXX videos for nothing!

  8. If this were in an Eighties theatre, someone would yell:

    ” DON’T TIE THE KNOT, ERAN! DON’T TIE THE KNOT! THAT MO-FO GWINE-A GET YOU!”

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.