Concussion Review | BFI Flare 2014

Concussion is Stacie Passon’s thrilling and sensual debut feature, focusing on a whole new look at the desperate housewife scenario. This intellectual tale follows Abby (the incredibly talented and beautiful Robin Weigert), a bored lesbian who lives with her wife and two children. Following an accidental hit to the head by a baseball, Abby suffers mild concussion and this sets her on a journey of sexual reawakening and fulfilment as she takes matters into her own hands and tries to bring about some excitement in her life.

Her day to day follows the same mundane routines; clean the house, do the chores, go to the gym and pick the kids up from the school and yet she knows there is something missing, something more out there that will give her reason. To try and alleviate some of the boredom, she buys an apartment in the city to do over with her friend, Justin (Johnathan Tchaikovsky). They rip the place apart and start from the beginning but Abby realises this isn’t exactly what she had in mind. Her sex life with her wife, Kate (Julie Fain Lawrence) has been stale for a while now and she yearns to be touched as she once had been by Kate. After an uncomfortable encounter with a junkie call girl, Justin puts Abby in touch with someone else who promises to get her off. This is the first example in the film of Passon’s precise and intuitive eye about representing the female psyche and sexuality; the scene that introduces to Abby the idea of the high class call girl is erotic and beautiful. The girl removes her clothes with no hassle and moves towards Abby before touching her breast; in that one moment Abby’s entire life changes and she rediscovers what was missing all along.

After this, Abby accepts some clients herself through Justin’s girlfriend, simply called The Girl. These are other lonely women who are just looking for the intimacy that they crave and aren’t getting in their lives. The only rule that Abby stands by is that she must meet with the women first for a coffee or tea to see whether they really are interested in having these intense moments of passion together. Everything seems to be going well for Abby until she turns up at the coffee shop in the city one day to find, Sam Bennet (Maggie Siff), one of the fellow mum’s from her group at home and suddenly everything she has built could crumble within an instant.

With Concussion, Passon has created a story that is relatable to almost everyone, a tale about what we do in life to make it easier for ourselves and what we do to keep ourselves from getting bored. But there is another, unavoidable level of Passon’s delicate and nuanced filmmaking, she is able to represent and create incredible female characters that embody the feminine psyche and allow an easy entry for the audience to try and understand. What becomes even more touching about Abby’s character is that after a time, she starts to look after her clients – in particular one girl whose mother is trying to get her to lose weight but in a wonderful scene, she gives the girl a selection of books, which will open her mind rather than concentrating on the bad things people say around her.

Over time the audience see a confidence grow in Abby, as she starts to become comfortable in her own skin but at the same time, part of the thrill of the film is wondering whether she is going to be found out at all. On top of all this, the film also poses questions around fidelity; is she cheating on her wife or is she simply doing something that she needs to do, to grow closer and return to Kate? There is a great discussion had early in the film about a divorcing couple; Katie simply suggests that the wife should have got a breath of fresh air before jumping into something so final – this is something that Abby returns back to in order to save her marriage.

Passon’s filmmaking is beautiful, carefully allowing her camera to caress each of the bodies of the women that come to Abby, appreciating each for their own wonderful positives. This is clearly someone who understands the form and loves the bodies that she is portraying on screen. This allows for an intimate kind of storytelling, which is lost in so many films today, but something Concussion is spot on at. Weigert’s performance as Abby is one of the strongest of the year; really playing with the emotions of the audience and keeping them hooked throughout. Her chemistry with Siff is seductive and raw, from their eye contact with each other right down to their animal body contact.

Concussion is a great exploration of female sexuality, told by an exciting new female filmmaker.

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