Directed by: Stacie Passon
Starring: Robin Weigert, Maggie Siff, Johnathan Tchaikovsky
When suburban housewife Abby's child knocks her in the head with a baseball, causing — you guessed it — a concussion, she goes through a mid-life crisis of sorts and becomes a local prostitute.
At 42, Abby is living an unfulfilled life. In her marriage with her wife, Kate, the passion is gone. The two muddle through life and avoid their problems by only having surface discussions. They certainly aren't happy, but they aren't exactly unhappy either, so they're stuck in that uncomfortable stalemate that so many long-married couples seem to suffer from.
As a means of breaking free from her mundane existence, Abby begins a prostitution business. Women find her by word of mouth, contact her, have coffee with her and then have sex with her. Abby is very good at the job. Going by the name Eleanor, she finds success in what she does, and though she's happier for a while, it soon becomes clear that even this can't give her life the meaning she craves.
As Abby, Robin Weigert gives a fine performance. She is sultry and sexy, but all the while there's something missing. She isn't complete, and Weigert does an impressive job of constantly reminding viewers of that fact. Even when this woman is at the height of pleasure, she is searching for something that she hasn't yet been able to find.
Concussion is particularly refreshing in its progressivism. It's a film carried entirely by women. Men have no real role in this movie at all, and it's a nice change from what we typically see on the big screen. Also lovely is the treatment of Abby's sexuality. She is gay. She has a wife. But those things in no way define her. They aren't what the movie is about. This isn't a film about a lesbian woman. It's a film about a woman, and because we waste no time unnecessarily focusing on the fact that Abby is gay, we're able to focus on the story that this film is trying to tell.
Throughout the film and especially when Abby is with clients, the camera angles are all over the place. But that's a good thing. Sometimes the camera hovers over the character, looking down at her. Sometimes we're on her level, seeing things as she sees them. These inventive angles serve as a powerful storytelling tool. The way we see the characters matter. Viewers must pay attention even to the way the film is shot, for fear of missing any subtle, yet important points.
Two women, Abby and one of her clients, in hushed tones, who have just shared a bed together, deliver much of the film's dialogue, but Concussion isn't necessarily a hyper sexualized film. Yes, there is a lot of sex, but sexual seems too harsh a word for this film. Sensual feels more appropriate. Romantic, even. Sex scenes, while not avoided, are soft and warm, rather than harsh or intense. Often it feels like viewers are peeking in on something private that shouldn't be seen.
Perhaps Concussion is the story of one woman's mid-life crisis, but I think boiling it down to something as simple and one note as that is doing the film a great injustice. For me, Concussion is a film about passion. Yearning for passion. Finding it. Keeping it alive. It's a familiar struggle, one that all people have surely gone through in one way or another.
We may not all turn to small town prostitution as a means of reigniting our fire, but in Concussion, I believe we can all see a little bit of ourselves, reflected.
Concussion is a reasonably satisfying and entertaining film, but like the main character, it always feels like there's something missing. For me, it might have been the lack of scenes shared by Abby and her wife. The two hardly share the screen and because of that it's hard to care about their failing relationship.
Still, Concussion is worth the watch for its progressivism and Weigert's acting alone, and even though it feels like it could have been better, it's still quite a good film.
By Schyler Martin