Whilst Resurrection never deviates from its grim examination of motherhood, Andrew Semans‘ gripping, ultimately bonkers thriller refuses to stay on the course you expect it to.
Portraying very much the type of Rebecca Hall-encapsulated character that Rebecca Hall effortlessly portrays, the actress here, strong-willed and properly presented, is Margaret, a pharmaceutical company representative who offsets her strict mothering to 17-year-old daughter Abbie (Grace Kaufman) with a freeing, no strings attached affair with one of her co-workers (Michael Esper).
Margaret’s over-attentive nature to Abbie and her insistence at keeping her affair at an emotional distance makes way for Semans’ script to plant off-balanced ingredients throughout Resurrection‘s narrative. The first is when Abbie uncovers a human tooth in her wallet after a night out. She seems unphased, though Margaret, understandably, is more concerned. Then, at a conference, Margaret is visibly disturbed by the appearance of a man in the crowd, someone we come to learn isn’t a stranger but is linked to her past, a relationship that descended into physical brutality and emotional manipulation; oh, and he just so happens to be missing a tooth. Coincidence? I think not.
This man is David (an unnerving Tim Roth), and the true nature of his relationship with Margaret is one that Semans boldly banks on and refuses to let go of once it is revealed. This revelation comes in the form of a heart-breaking, flooring monologue that Margaret sprouts to an unsuspecting intern (Angela Wong Carbone); “Is this a joke?” is her understandable response once Margaret has revealed all, and not only is there nothing remotely funny about what has been relayed – I refuse to spoil just what has taken place – but it’s a disturbing arc that the rest of the film rides to its uneasy climax.
How an audience member responds to Resurrection will have a lot to do with how literal they take the narrative once David and Margaret’s past is laid bare. It’s to the individual viewer as to whether or not this is a hallucinatory experience, but given that everything is adhered to with such a seriousness and an undeniable physicality, the film’s narrative punches are sure to knock many a viewer out of contention.
Personally, it threw me for an absolute loop, and whilst I would have perhaps preferred something less literal in its depiction, I can’t help but admire the film’s perverse nature and its dedication to following through on its directional wildness. The gamble may not necessarily pay off in spades, but Hall and Roth are undoubtedly committed to both the story and characters, and I can’t see too many other actresses other than the former delivering such an unhinged monologue with utter conviction.
THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Resurrection is screening as part of this year’s Brisbane International Film Festival, running between October 27th and November 6th, 2022. For more information head to the official BIFF website.
Resurrection was originally reviewed as part of our 2022 Sundance Film Festival coverage.