Sundance Film Festival Premieres Section
Reviewed for Shockya.com by Abe Friedtanzer
Director: Andrew Semans
Writer: Andrew Semans
Cast: Rebecca Hall, Tim Roth, Grace Kaufman, Michael Esper, Angela Wong Carbone
Screened at: Sundance Film Festival Online, LA, 1/23/22
Opens: January 22nd, 2022
Everyone has things from the past that they would rather not have brought to light. How severe those are can vary greatly, and the inherent risk posed by exposure or resurfacing can range from negligible to monumental. It’s also possible that what one person believes will be damaging or problematic may not relate to an actual threat, but the anxiety that might be produced by something becoming known to others can be overwhelming. Resurrection highlights the inner trauma endured by one woman and the danger presented by its return.
Margaret (Rebecca Hall) knows how to stay on top of her work and care for her teenage daughter Abbie (Grace Kaufman), having perfected her routine and able to consistently deliver on all fronts. But her collected demeanor comes immediately undone when she sees David (Tim Roth), a man from her past who used to torment her when they were together two decades earlier and almost had a child. David’s presence completely unnerves Margaret and compels her to take desperate measures to protect her family at all costs.
Resurrection begins by showing Margaret as a powerhouse, fiercely capable of doing anything she sets her mind to and introducing her with an emphatic score that paints her as a power player. The moment that she sees David sitting in a park, she marches up to him to demand that he leave her alone, attempting to proactively expel him from her life. David’s chilling nonchalance is enough to strip her of all the confidence she has mustered, and to remind her that he has a horrifying hold over her that can undo any of the walls she has put up in the time since she has been free of his negative influence.
The specifics of what David holds over Margaret are a bit murkier and more fantastical, as he suggests that their baby is somehow within him, held hostage there for the entirety of the time that they have been apart. Though viewers may raise their eyebrows at this plot point, Margaret is apparently afraid enough of him to believe that it is real, and she also feels a bond with this unborn yet inexplicably hosted child that lives inside of him. This also allows David to restart an abusive pattern of forcing Margaret to perform “kindnesses” that humiliate and physically harm her and which he says are required in exchange for him keeping the baby safe.
If audiences are able to get past the questionable nature of this film’s storyline, it may be a more satisfying experience. Classified as a thriller, it’s not clear for much of the film whether this is all meant to be an invention within Margaret’s mind, and if David is actually real or merely a figment of her imagination. Not being sure of whether to take the film’s events at face value might not impede the viewing experience for some, and there are those who won’t want to consider the possibility of this frightening supernatural occurrence being presented as literal.
Whatever the surrounding story, it’s hard to deny the strength of Hall’s central performance. Since her first film role in Starter for 10 fifteen years ago, Hall has demonstrated a fierce commitment to her roles, and this part could have been a slippery environment where the film might overtake her. Instead, she remains its most stable constant, with solid support from Kaufman and Roth, whose characters both challenge her in extraordinarily different ways. The film as a whole leaves a less satisfying taste, seeming to discover what it is only as it approaches its end and making the journey to get there not feel quite as worthwhile.
Story – B-
Acting – B+
Technical – B
Overall – B-