Movies: Love Among the Stacks

Possession makes a heroic, finally successful stab at bringing a romantic Victorian detective story to life

What happens when a filmmaker with the gift of malice tries to make a love story? Can his fine, scaly hand carry off a caress? And if he can, will he connect with a film audience that long ago shrugged off amour?

Neil LaBute's rep, or rap sheet, is as a chronicler of cruelty. The two films he has written and directed (In the Company of Men, Your Friends and Neighbors) and his two best-known theater pieces (Bash: Latterday Plays and The Shape of Things) are cunning investigations into the way people hurt people. Now, in his version of A.S. Byatt's...

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