Concussion Movie Review
A sharply observed odyssey of middle-aged self-discovery, this strikingly offbeat film may feel a little vague in its approach, but it carries a strong kick. And watching the central character work out what she really wants in life is thoroughly involving, finding universal truths in a situation that few in the audience can, or would be willing to, identify with.
It begins with a blow to the head in a playground accident, after which 42-year-old Abby (Robin Weigert) begins feeling unsettled in her life. She's tired of her high-maintenance kids and is more aware of the growing distance between her and her wife Kate (Julia Fain Lawrence). Then her home-decorating colleague Justin (Johnathan Tchaikovsky) makes a suggestion: if all she really needs is intimacy, Abby could make a reasonable living as a prostitute. So she gives it a go, stipulating that she meets her clients for coffee before anything else happens. But things take an unexpected turn when her friend Sam (Maggie Siff) hires her services.
Writer-director Stacie Passon gives the film a warmly comical tone, undercutting the serious premise with acerbic humour and small surprises. There's an unusual honesty to everything, as Passon and her cast refuse to play the usual Hollywood game: these women are in charge of their sex lives in ways rarely seen on-screen. They're also unusually complex characters who do things they know they probably shouldn't, but they carry on in an effort to make sense of their lives. This approach makes it impossible to just sit back and watch: we get intimately involved in every decision each person makes.
It helps that the cast is so off-handed and natural. Weigert delivers a remarkably sensitive portrayal of a woman who clearly understands what she's doing, enjoying the guilt even as she never stops caring for Kate. Thankfully, Lawrence never plays Kate as a villain, drawing out her own internalised issues. All of the characters are sometimes painfully realistic, and Passon's most important touch is to refuse to offer easy answers or simplistic moralising. This is a thoroughly grown-up look at how our desires and goals shift as we age. And it can't help but leave us thinking.