Trial in Denial
In the midst of a shower Ellena Roberts (Jenna Elfman - Keeping the Faith) is disturbed by a knock at her door and on answering finds herself being arrested. Thrown in to a cell she starts telling her story to a reporter who is inside for refusing to reveal her resources and then her lawyer Sara Miller (Kate Burton - Stay) who is convinced her client is innocent. Ellena's story starts some months earlier when she embarks on an affair with surgeon David Stillman (Sam Robards) but after turning cold towards her press charges, denying that they had an affair and that Ellena is irrationally stalking him. As Sara looks into the case she becomes more conflicted as to who is telling the truth and who is lying.
"Obsessed" sounds like another one of those TV movies based on a true story about a woman behaving irrationally when she is dumped by her lover and her actions lead to her being arrested. But there are two things which make this more entertaining; firstly it is the puzzle of who is telling the truth as Ellena says they had an affair whilst David says no such thing happened. But secondly is that writer Matthew Tabak and director John Badham don't serve the story on a plate, they drip feed information so that we have to wait to find out what is exactly going on. That makes a huge difference because the simple fact we don't know everything straight away and twists keep on appearing keeps you involved in what is not that special a story.
That more than anything is the key to why "Obsessed" works as to start off with we don't know the reason for her arrest, when we discover that she has had an affair and then was dumped we don't know how far her stalking went to warrant an arrest and then we get David's version which twists things around because at that point you don't know whether he is lying to save his family or that Ellena is psycho. Sadly once you get beyond the smart construct the rest of the movie has some issues none more so than the bog standard camera work which grounds it in the realms of being a TV movie. You can also add to that the wardrobe department as in order to make Ellena a seductress far too many scenes rely on Jenna Elfman looking sexy in lingerie, don't get me wrong as Elfman looks sexy but it makes it seem desperate to stress this.
Despite this Elfman delivers a convincing performance both when it comes to her portrayal as a psycho stalker but also as a woman wronged by a shallow lover. It is Elfman's performance which carries the movie and is another reason why "Obsessed" ends up a cut above the usual TV movie fair.
What this all boils down to is that "Obsessed" is a cut above your usual TV movie based on a true story purely because it doesn't serve everything up on a plate and does a good job of feeding you little bits of the story to keep you interested.