REVIEW: “Concussion” is a riveting shock to the system

This review contains some basic plot points and mild spoilers. 

What happens when having it all is not enough? A beautiful house, a great body, a thoughtful partner who makes a boatload.  A feeling of ennui creeps in so slowly and insidiously that you don’t even notice until it’s wrapped itself around your “perfect” life. Sometimes, it comes hard and fast, and knocks you completely off your feet.  For Abby (played with smoldering intensity by Robin Weigert), it’s unclear which is the driving force for her actions in Concussion. The film’s title refers to the actual concussion which Abby receives early on in the film: a baseball, thrown by her son. In the aftermath, Abby finds a catalyst to break out of the immaculate, grey walls of her existence.

Abby is a beautiful, smart, stay-at-home mom of two, living in the ‘burbs. She’s the kind of person who never misses a spin class and vacuums in her Lululemon. Her wife, Kate (Julie Fain Lawrence), is a prominent divorce attorney.  After the concussion, the previously affable Abby becomes unsettled and full of nervous energy. Abby is crawling out of her skin with newfound desires, and Kate is content to sleep through it. Abby, who now finds herself turning her head at every attractive woman she sees, decides to go back to work. At one point, she was a successful house flipper and designer, so she sets her sights on a cozy loft in Manhattan and gets to work.  However, it’s not enough to satisfy her unease and certainly not enough to satiate her awakened libido.

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Frustrated physically and creatively, Abby seeks out the services of a prostitute. The experience is rather unpleasant, but she is undeterred.  Her contractor Justin (Jonathan Tchaikovsky) helps her connect with a highly recommended escort, and the experience changes everything for Abby.  Soon, she herself becomes the pleasure giver. With the help of Justin, Abby begins soliciting her services in the apartment they are remodeling.  For Abby, it’s not about the money, but rather connection and release.  When Sam (Maggie Siff), a woman from her neighborhood, comes to her things become more complicated for Abby.

The film is frank in its depiction of sex, with many highly charged erotic scenes. I want to be clear that I don’t believe that this is a movie about lesbian bed death. Lesbian bed death is a fallacy that was created in an attempt to strip away and invalidate women’s desires. What Abby and Kate suffer from, are the effects of boredom and resentment, which is an affliction that can affect long-term couples in all types of relationships. The way that writer/director Stacie Passon deals with the slow breakdown of communication and desire in relationships was what I found so compelling. What are you willing to sacrifice for all the bells and whistles of a so-called “normal” life?  When passion fizzles, what takes its place?

Robin Weigert is spectacular in the film, delivering a performance of intense vulnerability and complete abandon. Writer Stacie Passon gives her a terrific script to work with, and the collaboration between the actress and director (also Passon) is very evident in many scenes and nuanced shots.  The rest of the cast and ensemble are excellent as well, providing a solid backdrop for Abby’s desires to play out.

Concussion’s themes and subject matter make it a universally relatable film, and I have no doubt that will be well received by gay and straight audiences alike.

Here’s the NSFW trailer for Concussion:

Concussion opens in theatres October 4, and will also be available on VOD and iTunes.