The announcement that Netflix was working on an adaptation of Josephine Hart’s classic novel ‘Damage’ is one that left me pondering what, if anything, a remake of sorts could offer that the 1992 film from director Louis Malle, which starred Jeremy Irons and Juliette Binoche, didn’t already deliver.
This four-part limited series, which arrives on Thursday 13th April, stars Richard Armitage as William and Charlie Murphy as Anna, the woman he becomes obsessed with who is dating his son Jay (Rish Shah). While the series has been given a modern makeover – in this iteration William is married to Ingrid (Indira Varma), a woman of Indian heritage, and he’s a surgeon rather than a politician while Anna isn’t French or the daughter of a British diplomat – the storyline remains largely the same as the original film version.
William and Anna are instantly attracted to one another after meeting at an evening soirée, and their relationship quickly turns into a sexual power struggle as they meet in a sparse apartment to satisfy their urges. All the while, Anna continues to date William’s son and the threat of their affair being discovered hangs over their heads, especially as someone seems to know what they’re up to behind closed doors.
The set-up for the series is sizzling enough with Armitage and Murphy sparking off one another from the moment they meet. Where the series falters is that neither William nor Anna are even slightly likeable. William’s selfish decisions to prioritise his own sexual desires, at the expense of his family, and the two-dimensional nature of Anna’s character as a femme fatale makes it hard for the viewer to care about either of them. The script does nothing to try and make their actions understandable.
Spread across four episodes, the thin plot feels far too stretched. Time is filled in each episode with explicit sex scenes, but after the initial surprise at just how far the series chooses to go, it starts feeling repetitive. The viewer is painfully aware that William and Anna are having an affair so do we really need to see lengthy sex scenes every episode? The answer is not really because they don’t really add to the overall story and the whole thing starts feeling more ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ than the original ‘Damage’ film.
‘Obsession’ starts well but it soon loses steam. Poorly written lead characters, and forgettable supporting players, make this nothing more than an erotic drama that fizzles rather than sizzles. Armitage and Murphy do their best to carry the series, but they aren’t given very much to work with. Given that both are capable actors, that’s a real shame. If you haven’t seen ‘Damage’, or read the original book, you might find enough to enjoy here but if you have, you’re better sticking with those.
‘Obsession’ launches on Netflix on Thursday 13th April 2023. Watch the trailer below: