As I have tried to play catch-up on films that I want to see, I have been losing the battle against writing them up. I am a bit behind the curve, but I am going to try to get caught up. Resurrection had all the intense, psychological drama that I was anticipating but pushed the envelope to the point that had me questioning its constructed reality (in a good way).
Margaret is successful, respected, desired, and seemingly has everything well under control. When a man from her past suddenly shows back up, it brings her personal history to the surface and she begins spiraling into the trauma of her past.
Rebecca Hall is incredible and I have enjoyed seeing her take on these psychological horror-type roles. This was a much better use of her talents than Godzilla vs. Kong and it helped refine the lines that identify her as such a talented performer. Her turn here is borderline feverish as the life she’s meticulously crafted for herself quickly erodes in the face of her agonizing history. There’s a haunting monologue right around the middle that sums up the many levels of torment she’s endured and it’s done in one staggering, shadowy shot that hones in on her uniquely powerful screen presence.
The other side of that coin is played by the illustrious Tim Roth. He’s been in so many of my favorite films over the years I can’t pretend that he wasn’t a major contributing factor to my interest here. He has the ability to turn that villainous charisma on with remarkable fluidity and, when he does, you can’t take your eyes off him. He stepped into this character like the rest of us would put on a pair of pants we know will always fit. The effortlessness of his performance is jaw-dropping.
This movie really boiled down to three key performances (although Michael Esper is really good in a smaller role too) and the third side of the triangle is Grace Kaufman playing Margaret’s daughter, Abbie. Their already semi-tenuous mother/daughter relationship gets pushed to the breaking point as Margaret tries to hide her past. Kaufman’s wry sense of humor in this role pairs beautifully with the rigid control freak Hall presents as a single mom and, most importantly, it felt natural. Kaufman plays Abbie as a singular truth pushed up against a number of lies and her performance is pivotal in shaping the context of Margaret’s behavioral shift. It’s exceedingly easy to empathize with her as she grapples with terror and genuine concern.
The character dialogue from writer/director Andrew Semans is often emotionally raw and gives its stars every opportunity to shine. It also has a pretty smart sense of humor that’s wielded adeptly and makes up for the lack of foundational character development. I won’t get into that too much, but it’s a lot of broad strokes until the meat of the film really gets started. Once that ball gets rolling though…it’s going to take you to some messed-up places, and I loved that aspect.
Jim Williams has composed music for some of my favorite films in recent memory (that also happen to be pretty intense) and delivered a piercing accompaniment once again to some of the gritty visuals and locations we see on screen.
Sometimes, leaving the theater with questions isn’t a good thing. However, this is a film that isn’t about exposition nearly as much as it is about the horror of past trauma, how easy it is to be triggered back into that cycle of behaviors, and how difficult it is to break those patterns. In this case, the questions I was asking after the film added to the experience of what I had seen.
Recommendation: See it for the performances of Hall, Roth, and Kaufman. Stay for the weird stuff but if you can’t handle dark, then you should probably stay away from this one.
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