Content Note: abuse/domestic violence, gaslighting
Margaret (Rebecca Hall) is successful, has a great relationship with her daughter Abbie (Grace Kaufman) who is about to go off to college and a married lover (Michael Esper) – the non-commitedness she prefers. Everything is going great until she sees David (Tim Roth) at a conference, like a ghost from her past coming back to haunt her. Margaret is shocked and distraught and unravels more and more, even or especially when she tries to confront him.
Resurrection was quite a downer for the start of the SLASH film festival. Not because it’s bad, it’s absolutely not. It’s just quite heavy. It’s also tense and excellently acted and had me firmly in its grip, despite some lengths.
Resurrection is a film about abuse and how abuse once experienced will always have a certain hold on you (at least if you don’t work through it properly). It’s also about gaslighting and it really captures that dynamic. How easy it is to fall back into old patterns. How there is always some last doubt that remains: what if my abuser is right after all? The film pulls the audience right into that question. We start to wonder, too, if David isn’t telling the truth in the end? This only works because this is a film and you can do a lot in films. But it is an accurate thing that abuse victims experience: the claims their abusers make are absolutely outlandish if you look at them objectively. But they could be true, couldn’t they? What if they are? It is gut-wrenching to watch Margaret go through this, and even going along with her.
Rebecca Hall is fantastic. There appears to be barely a moment in the film when she isn’t on screen and she is astounding in the way she captures Margaret transition from top of the world to rock bottom, always desperate for some way to regain the control over life. In the end, she does – but at what cost. Tim Roth has a much smaller part, but he is no less well-chosen. He is charming and convincing and an utter bastard as David.
The film, as I mentioned, does run a tad too long, although not that long that it lost its tension or lost my attention at all. It just could have been tightened a little more here and there. I also thought that Abbie was a little too adult and self-reflected for her age, but as I generally liked the mother-daughter dynamic, I didn’t mind that too much. (And I really liked that with her reaction to Margaret’s development, Abbie shows that she will look out for herself – the number one resilience factor when it comes to abuse, according to my non-scientific experience.)
In short, Resurrection is a really strong and very memorable film. It’s not exactly empowering for victims of abuse, I’m afraid, but it is reflective of the realities of abuse, especially being confronted with it unexpectedly after a while. And that’s certainly a story worth telling – and a film worth watching.
Summarizing: heavy because it’s good.