Long before Daniel Craig had a license to kill, he apparently had one to make terrible films. Watching Obsession, a baffling 1997 German drama, it is hard to believe that this is the same broodingly charismatic actor who a decade later would be credited with reinvigorating the Bond franchise. Sure, the piercing eyes and steely gazes are there, but so is some truly overwrought acting; he spits out each line as though it may be his last. Of course, the script does 007 and his co-stars no favours. It tells the story of a stonemason (Craig) who comes to Berlin obsessed with filling out the gaps in his family history, one that hinges upon a high-wire act over Niagara Falls. (Don't ask.) An encounter in a train station leads to him not only becoming a wanted man, but the third side of a love triangle that includes a nerdy Frenchman named Pierre (Charles Berling) and his long-time girlfriend, Miriam (Heike Makatsch, whom Alan Rickman would eventually lose his head over in Love Actually). There's little chemistry among the three, although Craig fares slightly better than his competitor, and no real reason to care who gets the girl. Which is a shame, because the lovely Makatsch is a singularly compelling presence, even when she is given nothing compelling to say. The pacing is choppy and the editing inexplicable, with scenes petering out before their natural conclusions. This odd little film is for devoted Craig fans only.
Updated: March 10, 2009 04:00 AM