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February 10, 2014

Concussion

by Franz Patrick


Concussion (2013)
★ / ★★★★

Being hit with a baseball to the head becomes a wake-up call for Abby (Robin Weigert). Though she is married to Kate (Julie Fain Lawrence) and they have two wonderful kids, their home life has gotten a little stale. They barely even have sex anymore.

Abby and Justin (Johnathan Tchaikovsky) are in the process of renovating an apartment in the city. She confesses to him that she has recently hooked up with a prostitute. Her excitement far outweighs her guilt. Incidentally, Justin knows a person who runs a business involving women clients looking for other women to have sex with. Justin suggests Abby might be a perfect candidate to meet these clients—if she is interested.

Based on the screenplay and directed by Stacie Passon, “Concussion” might have been a better movie if it wasn’t so repetitive. The ingredients to make a magnetic domestic drama are present: a couple who live in the same place but are often cold and distant, a lack of meaning in the conversations when they do talk to—or through—one another, and, perhaps most importantly, the fact that the screenplay does not make a big deal that the central couple are lesbians. Because the material brims with potential, one cannot help but expect a little more.

It gives us a lot less. Although Weigert does a good job playing a woman who craves a little bit of danger and excitement, the arc that her character goes through is not a very steep parabola. In fact, it is quite flat. Couple that with a torturous middle section where nothing important happens other than a revolving door of women wanting to have an emotional connection or casual sex, the material stagnates.

Abby’s interactions with the persons who pay her are not especially engaging. Perhaps the only one worthy of our time is the first client (Daria Feneis), a twenty-three-year-old overweight woman who has not had any sort of sexual experience—not even a first kiss. Out of all the clients, she stands out because she is most like Abby: she wishes to know or discover the other side and when she finally does, it empowers her. Though they come from completely different worlds, their commonality establishes a tenuous bond.

I found it strange that Kate appears to be upset all the time. As a result, the marriage becomes one dimensional to us and that is a problem. Perhaps the point is for us to feel what Abby feels at times but in order for us to understand and appreciate the complexity of their relationship, both people must have their turn for us to relate with. The screenplay keeps Kate at a distance for so long that when she finally reacts, it is more a muffle than an explosion. The emotions that we should be feeling are not successfully invoked.

Though “Concussion” looks more realistic than many commercial domestic dramas, it does not necessarily mean it is any better. Like its more standard counterparts, it lacks a vital force that encourages us to look closer within the characters and their circumstances.

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