Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Real Story Behind Lifetime's Movie, 'Obsessed'

Jenna Elfman plays Ellena Roberts in Obsessed.
Maybe a New Age blogger shouldn't necessarily post reviews or recommendations of movies, but I love what people call "bad" Lifetime movies!  Because so much of the counselling I do involves relationships, I find that something, no matter how small, can be learned from even the silliest plot.

Obsessed is one of my favorite Lifetime movies.  It was released in 2002 and stars Jenna Elfman as the sexy and lovely (but totally bonkers) Ellena Roberts, who stalks her victim-slash-love interest, Dr. David Stillman, a famous surgeon with a happy marriage and family.  Her obsession for this man eventually crosses the line from fantasy into a warped reality when Ellena's harrassment of Dr. Stillman becomes out of control.  Eventually, the harrassment evolves into criminal activity.  Ellena suffers from a form of mental illness called erotomania, wherein the patient truly believes that he or she is romantically involved with someone when in actuality, they are not involved.

Ellena has many tricks to stalk her doctor, including guile and manipulation, impersonation of friends and relatives, even getting jobs which grant her access to private information about Dr. Stillman and his family.  Her insanity is surpassed only by her intelligence and craftiness: during her harassment trial, a court-appointed analyst (played by Vlasta Vrana) pointed psychiatrist declared her to have "seven of the ten traits of an assassin."  This movie has lots of fascinating twists and turns of the plot, making it a riveting story.  It's a guilty pleasure, but it's too good to miss!

Fun fact:  This movie was based on a true story.  Diane Schaefer is the actual person on whom the character of Ellena Roberts was based.  Diane Schaefer stalked Dr. Murray Brennan, an oncologist from Sloan-Kettering Hospital in NYC for years before her conviction in 1990.  She was sentenced to 2 years in prison.  The lawyer who defended Schaefer, Joyce David, has put the movie-inspiring article on her website.

There is also a French movie called "À la Folie... Pas du Tout" (He Loves Me... He Loves Me Not) which features a similar plot.  I'm not sure if this is a remake or just coincidence.

You can also find out when Obsessed is playing on TV by going to its website on Lifetime.

So, who loves this movie?  Lifetime movies based on true stories are the best, and Obsessed is one of my personal faves!  Leave some comments below! :)

29 comments:

  1. I'm trying to find the Vanity Fair article, and landed here-I love a good 'bad' Lifetime....'I Have a Secret Evil Twin Who Is Stalking Me and Stole the Baby I Had When I Was 16’ movie. The link to the article/lawyer was broken. :-(
    I'm a medical geek-I guess, mental or physical, and the stranger the better.....that's pretty bad, huh? Lol. Good blog. If anyone finds the article, link to it please!

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  2. This is funny, I googled to find the 10 signs of an assassin and came across you writing on them and this one, hehehhehe

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  3. LOL! Thanks for checking out my article, I hope that it was helpful to you! I love Lifetime movies too, and am currently thinking about writing an article about "Liz & Dick" which I can't tell if it was bad in a good way, or just bad! (Elizabeth Taylor is a tough role to play.) Also, I'll see what I can find out about the article. It was there awhile ago but may have been moved.

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  4. I'm watching the movie right now and it is soooo good. I came to my computer to find the 10 traits of an assassin. I think you hit the nail on the head!!!! Great movie.

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    1. Thanks! This is one of my favorite Lifetime movies. The best ones are the ones with the weird twists at the end! :)

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  5. SPOILER!
    We don't discover that the entire romance is fantasy until the movie is almost over......unless of course, we read this sage's article. Way to go, Sage!
    Got any other movies you'd like to ruin for us?

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    1. My goodness, you must have been pretty upset to actually comment about my 11-year-old "spoiler!" ;) IMHO, Ellena Roberts' flights of fantasy are made obvious very early in the film. If one Googles an old Lifetime movie *while* watching it, one runs the risk of coming across a spoiler or two. Sorry!

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  6. Hello can anyone tell what was the medical term the therapist used to describe the mental condition/disorder Ellena was suffering from I swear I have a friend that has the same thing

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  7. Hi Adaysha! The disorder is erotomania. I wrote an article about it here, too: http://consultthesage.blogspot.com/2013/05/erotomania-is-it-real.html?m=1 Hope this helps! :)

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  8. Good story it had me wondering to the very end was she imagining it or not

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  9. Love your post and I agree this is one of my favorite lifetime movies!

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  10. I went to Junior High School with the real stalker and she was not your usual teenager. More like a grown woman straight out of Town and Country

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    1. Hi,

      My name is Maria. I am currently producing a documentary series and we are looking into Diane Schaefer's story. If you did know her, would you mind speaking with me on the phone? If so, I can provide contact information.


      Thank You.

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    2. Hi Maria, I posted a note below yours on this particular "obsessed" website. Given that you are looking to do a documentary piece on this subject I thought you might be able to assist me in my own research. I am doing a research paper on this case. Can you assist me in tracking down the actual case file? News articles etc... I have spent many hours of Internet time looking, & almost always get referenced back to the movie in one form or another. Very frustrating! Any assistance you can provide would be helpful. In return, should I come across anything that might be of interest to you, I would be happy to forward it to you. Your attention and assistance would be most appreciated! K

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    3. I do have the Vanity Fair issue containing this article if anyone had had trouble finding it. I can't copy it and distribute it on my blog (since that would be copyright infringement, I have ads on the blog) but I could certainly send it to you privately if you haven't gotten your hands on a copy yet. Also, you might try checking with NYC directly as I believe criminal activity & court rulings are public record. Hope this helps! :)

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    5. I'm watching this right now for like the 50th time & enjoy it every time. The funny thing is we all should have picked up on the imaginary friend not being acknowledged by anyone in jail, court, etc...lol Especially when she spoke out loud in court and also when Ellena turned around & had a conversation with this imaginary BFF in court..lol Twist after Twist. GREAT MOVIE!! Are there photos of the real Diane Schaefer and Dr. Brennan

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    6. I'm watching this right now for like the 50th time & enjoy it every time. The funny thing is we all should have picked up on the imaginary friend not being acknowledged by anyone in jail, court, etc...lol Especially when she spoke out loud in court and also when Ellena turned around & had a conversation with this imaginary BFF in court..lol Twist after Twist. GREAT MOVIE!! Are there photos of the real Diane Schaefer and Dr. Brennan

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    7. I'm watching this right now for like the 50th time & enjoy it every time. The funny thing is we all should have picked up on the imaginary friend not being acknowledged by anyone in jail, court, etc...lol Especially when she spoke out loud in court and also when Elana turned around & had a conversation with this imaginary BFF in court..lol Twist after Twist. GREAT MOVIE

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  11. Hi Maria and others posting here :)
    I am doing a paper on the actual case regarding this story, but after much Web research ha e not been able to locate any information on the actual case file. If anyone could assist by sending some links or directions on how to acquire this information I'd be very appreciative! If emailing me is easier please respond here and I will supply my contact information. Many thanks! K

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  12. I'm watching the movie. I love this movie. This is my third time seeing it

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  13. I only saw about 30 minutes of this movie (in the middle) and could figure out that her friend was imaginary and she was off her rocker. Not a big surprise. But it was very entertaining and I would like to see the whole movie sometime.

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  14. I'm confused. I'm watching the film right now. The pic above looks like Jenna Elfman but the actress does not look like nor does she sound like Jenna Elfman in the film. I will continue to watch, maybe Jenna plays a different character later on?

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    1. It appears there was a remake in 2009 with Ali Larter & Beyonce.

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    3. The remake with Beyonce, Ali Larter and Idris Elba was in my opinion totally different from this story here. I think they just borrowed the title..lol and went with their own plot.

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    4. The remake with Beyonce, Ali Larter and Idris Elba was in my opinion totally different from this story here. I think they just borrowed the title..lol and went with their own plot.

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  15. I adore this movie. I finally found it on Amazon Prime and now I can watch whenever I want...which is probably far too often! But, as someone else pointed out, I always see something new that I hadn't seen before. And that scene in the Judge's chambers still makes me laugh every single time!

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