You Need To Watch Obsessed, Beyoncé & Idris Elba's Wild But Brilliant 2009 Thriller

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Gather around, kids. I’m going to talk you through the first few scenes of Obsessed. It’s a film that you’ll soon come to recognise as one of the most ironically iconic in recent history. You’ve probably not heard it mentioned in the 10 years since it sauntered onto the big screen, starring Idris Elba and Beyoncé Knowles as the black power couple the world wasn’t ready for. But we are now. We are here for the culture. We are here for the nostalgia. We are here for the shock, horror and lols that you’ll get from this, the best not-great film of 2009.
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Idris Elba is Derek: a hotshot at a big, generic investment company. Charismatic, confident and clean-shaven with a retrospectively disarming American accent. He’s the guy who’ll dance with the older women at the Christmas party. He'll play along with the lads when there’s banter in the air. He'll also have a stream of clients funnelling loads of money into the business at the same time. He’s that guy.
Beyoncé Knowles is Sharon and she is everything. Obviously. She’s intelligent and alluring. Wildly compassionate and someone to think twice before messing with. She’ll fiercely defend her family but not at the expense of her own dignity. Sharon stopped working at the big, generic investment company when she was pregnant with their son, who is maybe a year or two old.
Sharon and Derek have just moved into the house of expensive suburban dreams. They are so in love that, while they wait for the movers to arrive with their furniture, they have sex on the hard wooden floor beneath the unexplained ceiling mirror in their new master bedroom, while the baby chills on his own downstairs. Derek has just had a big promotion at work. Sharon is gearing up to go back to school. The nondescript foundation on which adult dreams are built is laid.
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It’s not long before we’re introduced to Lisa (Ali Larter ) – a young, blonde, flirtatious woman with something disconcerting about her intentions. We know she’s here to cause trouble because a) she’s recruited as a temp at Derek’s company, and 'temp' is basically Hollywood career movie code for 'trouble', b) there are lots of contentious and unnecessary close-ups of her thighs throughout, and c) Derek, his boss Joe and colleague Ben have this repulsive exchange within moments of her arrival:
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Joe: Who’s legs are those? I don’t think I’ve ever seen them before.
Derek: I think she’s the new temp.
Ben: I think you mean temptress!
Joe: Always nice to have a pretty girl around the office, isn’t it boys? Derek married the last eye candy we had and took her off the market.
Sigh, groan and then predict what happens next. Did you guess that Lisa would take a shine to Derek, try it on with him and then compulsively stalk him before eventually trying to destroy his marriage and take Sharon’s place in the family portrait? Bingo. Lisa is the woman 'obsessed'. She convinces herself that she and Derek are in a relationship, follows him on a work trip and emails him unsolicited "Happy New Year" photos wearing inexplicable pearls and a grey trilby à la Britney Spears 2007. Derek swats her away, the police are eventually involved and all seems a little calmer in the world. Just when you think she's gone, that it's safe to reinvest in the Beyoncé-Idris/Sharon-Derek dynamic, there Lisa is, cutting Sharon's head out of the family portrait.
It's laughable and tragic and so much more. Save for the deep-rooted misogyny and wider wildness of the entire narrative, what unfolds is a gloriously clichéd drama-thriller about a woman unhealthily fixated on a handsome married man. Depressingly typical, I know. And it all ends in a girl-on-girl fight scene, obvs, Lisa wearing nothing more than underpants and one of Derek's T-shirts, Sharon in the classic late '00s combination of white T-shirt, fitted waistcoat, jeans and thigh-high boots.
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There are few films and TV series in this world that really harness the culture of our time. The type of production that fills Twitter with hyperbolic commentary ("I’m Dead. That scene literally Gave. Me. Life!") and WhatsApp with rows upon rows of clap, flame and prayer hands emoji. Had social media progressed this far back in 2009, Obsessed would have received such accolades. It captures the same soap opera ridiculousness that shows like Scandal teetered around so unapologetically. It harnesses the marital drama of hundreds of familiar films but places a couple of colour in the centre of it. It borrows the majority of the Fatal Attraction narrative and gives us post-Dreamgirls Beyoncé in the process.
Obsessed has flaws aplenty. That was never going to be a surprise, revisiting a beloved film after a decade of societal progress and social media accountability. But what we have here is an under-celebrated cult classic starring two of the biggest, most respected celebrities in the world. There's a scene where Idris Elba shoots finger guns, for crying out loud! It's a compulsive film that I imagine queen Bey and 'hottest man of the year' Idris have purposely left buried in the depths of IMDb. But on its anniversary I say it should be resurrected. It requires friends, wine and popcorn. Commentate, marvel and reconsider Beyoncé's leopard print waist belt. Watch the trailer, and then the full film on YouTube. Though you'll probably look at 2009 a little differently, I promise you won't regret it.
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