Look, I'm not going to say that this is where Claire Waight-Keller got her inspiration from, but come on.. Look at the coats! The quilting! the turtleneck sweaters! That washed-out colour palette! It's like the perfect realisation of Stella McCartney's no-nonsense minimalism, Gwyneth's own polished New Yawker gladrags (although she does play a Brit in this film) with a dash of early 00s academia (that corduroy trouser suit, be still my beating heart!) thrown in for good measure. Possession is another one of my favourite books that was made into a movie that kind of went under the radar. Maybe because it's not very good? I don't know. I like it. It has impeccable, perfect casting - with the exception of Aaron Eckhart, I love you, man, but you're way too good looking to play Roland, sorry - and a really beautiful way with the camera. It's a lovely film to look at, costumes and all, and that to me makes it an enjoyable film.
When I say it has impeccable casting, I really mean it. Gwyneth Paltrow is perfect for this role, even if she's a prettier version of Maud than what the books represents. Maud's feminist, "eats men for breakfast" froideur is exactly how I've always seen Gwyneth. She has an icy exterior always, even when she's rapping Gangsta Gangsta. And there's this one bit in Possession that I've always loved, when Fergus is taunting Maud, who keeps her honey-coloured ramparts wrapped up in a turban, paraphrasing that lovely Yeats poem, "who could love you for yourself alone and not your yellow hair?" Look at Gwyneth's hair and tell me that it's not her best feature. They didn't have turbans in this adaptation (god, I'm just picking it apart now aren't I!) but they did keep it pulled back, oil-slick straight in a bun at all times, until that delicious moment when she lets it all tumble down...
The style in this movie is just all good. Roland's costumes are suitably "I read English at Oxford", with elbow-patch jackets and even more turtlenecks. Even the 19th century get up of Jeremy Northam and Jennifer Ehle are well done. But it's Gwyneth's looks that take the cake. I'm never going to get over those oversized coats - a different one for every scene, if you've got it, flaunt it, you know - that she wraps around herself against the bitter Yorkshire chill. I love that colour scheme: oatmeals and tweeds and ice greys and chambray blue pyjama sets. I love that Anne Klein minimalism, the sweaters with the thin tie at the true waist and the bootleg pants (bootleg pants! those were the days!). It's all so chic! It's all so CBK (and wouldn't Gwyneth make the most perfect CBK if they ever made a movie about her life?), which is totally fine because she was amazing, and her style was amazing, and it inspired a generation to be better than the gap and dream big and wear exclusively camel-coloured turtlenecks everyday for the rest of their lives. As I contemplate doing an honours year I've been reading and watching things that remind me of academia. I know that continuing education is not going to look like this but, oh, wouldn't it be fantastic if it did!