A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with a producer friend named Ray.
He stated that a good, successful, single black man is a hot commodity and a rare thing. When such a man has a girlfriend, said girlfriend should expect that her man will be approached by other women because of his status. There were some other points to that conversation, but that was the gist. That conversation has stayed with me for weeks now.
If I were truly, deeply honest with myself, Ray is right. For every good man (black, red or otherwise) who has a girlfriend or a wife, there are six other women vying for the opportunity to steal him from his girlfriend or wife.
So it’s hard to believe that any successful black man can be faithful because there are so many options available to him. But that’s one of the things I like about the movie Obsessed. Screenwriter David Loughery’s underlying theme of the entire movie is not that the successful black man is a low-down cheat, but that he doesn’t communicate well.
In Obsessed, Loughery, in my opinion, took the storyline of Fatal Attraction and added a twist. The attractive couple is African-American, and the husband doesn’t actually sleep with the temptress, who happens to be white. I’m not sure if Loughery did that on purpose, but it works for the story.
Poor Derek Charles (played by Idris Elba), an executive vice president for a hedge-fund firm, has just moved into a beautiful house with his young, hot wife Sharon, played by Beyonce Knowles. Derek has a great family, a great job and a luxury car. He has achieved the American dream.
But as in most movie plots, he is being set up to fall. In comes Lisa (Ali Larter), a temp with his firm who takes an instant liking to Derek. In fact, she likes him so much, she creates an entire relationship with him – in her head.
The best part of this story line is when Sharon decides she’s had enough, and proceeds to beat the fatal attraction out of Lisa; something many women would like to do to the women who try to take away their men.
Now, this scenario isn’t totally realistic, but it makes for good entertainment.
I had a great opportunity to do a conference call with Elba about his character, Derek, and his own personal activities, such as moving to Atlanta to be closer to his daughter, whom he shares with an ex-girlfriend.
This fact alone makes Elba the best person to play Derek; not to mention his great acting ability.
“The chemistry between all three of us (Larter, Knowles and Elba) was phenomenal from day one,” said the 36-year-old veteran stage actor and Hackney, London native. “Neither of us knew each other, so it was really a nice feeling to just get on set and get on with the work. Everyone had the same common goal, which is to make a good, authentic film.”
Knowles, who has been acting for a few years, has much improved in her acting skills. When I first saw Mrs. Jay-Z act, I shook my head in disapproval.
For this latest film, however, Knowles has stepped up her game, and it shows. Likewise, Larter is a great actress, and always has been.
Other actors of note are Jerry O’Connell as Ben, Derek’s best friend. I haven’t seen O’Connell is much of anything lately. He has a decent time of playing type, the hound-dog best friend.
Christine Lahti as Detective Reese is refreshing. She’s the voice of reason for the audience amidst the chaos of
Derek’s fight for his life and family, and Lisa’s delusional affair with Derek.
“This is quite a traditional thriller,” said Elba, whose production company is working on two documentaries and two TV dramas for this year. “In the sense that it’s a human story about very ordinary people, but an extraordinary event.”
The scariest part of this film is how Lisa manipulates the system to make things look like Derek is guilty. You have a black man who is successful and used to be a hound-dog himself before he married his ex-assistant. All signs point to
Derek being a cheater. If it weren’t for the fact that the audience sees Derek turn Lisa down so many times in the film, we would believe Derek’s guilt, as well.
Director Steve Shill manages to turn every character against Derek, while having an audience of people on Derek’s side; which is a bit ludicrous, because there’s nothing we can do for him. Shill also has a great sense of color. For the office scenes, there is a blue tinge to the set-up. But, at Derek’s house, everything is decorated in browns; a stark contrast.
I enjoyed speaking with Elba, whose natural charm and great sense of humor doesn’t get to see the light of day most times, because he’s great at immersing himself in dramas. But Elba is looking to work in more comedies; which will be a very interesting turn of events.
As for Obsessed, it’s a great film.
His sexiness, Elba, sums up the movie best: “This isn’t a film that you’re going to have any surprises. It’s a traditional thriller, and it’s good.”
Photo: Idris Elba, left, stars with Beyonce, right, and Ali Larter, center, in Obsessed.