Thursday, February 27, 2014

Streaming tip: Stacie Passon's CONCUSSION shows us what a bump on the head can do

Never for one moment uninteresting, yet forever making us want to get deeper into things as it glides along the surface of its main character's life, CONCUSSION, the writing/directing debut of actress Stacie Passon (shown below), is one of the better movies I've seen in some time about the lives of present-day lesbians and how they manage work, love, family (including children). The movie begin with the delivery of a bad bump on the head, as a ball thrown by one of those children bloodies the side of the face of our heroine, Abby (Robin Weigart). Whether this event itself causes a kind of disconnect in Abby's life or that disconnect was fully there, waiting to be exposed, is up for grabs. But what happens from here onwards makes for quite the change in our working housewife's life.

Abby already has a career as a successful woman who locates real estate that "needs work," does that work, and then sells at a tidy profit. She is also married to a woman with her own successful career, and the pair have two children: a boy and a girl who are, one assumes, pretty normal and relatively happy. But all this -- which would be plenty on the plate of most people I know -- is somehow not enough. Via some happenstance involving friends, clients, co-workers and their "connections," Abby comes upon the opportunity to act as an escort -- which, after a bit of coaxing and working out her own "rules of the game," she does. How she manages all this is the meat of the movie. Why she does it, why she needs to, we never really learn.

Consequently the movie skates along, quite nicely for the most part on the surface of things. We see these "connections" made, and they are certainly believable enough; we watch as client after client is serviced by Abby -- often psychologically, as much as sexually; and then, at last, we watch things (sort of) fall apart.

Some movie-makers would use this kind of story as an excuse for heavy melodrama, or maybe something in the thriller genre, not to mention the possibility of high (or low) comedy. Ms Passon opts for none of the above. Instead she goes for almost mundane reality, and the result, as I note above, is never uninteresting. But so much remains out of sight and mind.

Does this woman love her children? Is she even capable of this? It certainly doesn't show in what we see. Which makes us worry for those kids' future. The relationship between spouses is also fraught and barely probed. Both women have their problems and issues, it is clear. By the end they may have begun to work on this. Or maybe not. They might simply go back to that all-surface life.

Performances are fine right down the line. Everyone is so good in fact, that we want to know more about them all -- from the elusive, shy client played by Laila Robins to the the pert little girlfriend (played by, I believe, Emily Kinney) of Abby's contractor, who has set up this entire escort service. But the movie, such as it is, belongs to Ms Weigert, who is as usual, quite good, so far as she is allowed to go. Which is, again, all glistening surface.

The core, which is missing from Abby's character (we never see her prior to getting that titular concussion), is also missing from the movie itself. This makes it unusual, certainly -- as if this is the life we'll have once those pod people from Invasion of the Body Snatchers have taken over completely. I don't know that this is anything like what Ms Passon wanted to achieve. But it is something of an achievement, granted an odd one, nonetheless. You can watch the movie now on Netflix streaming, Amazon Instant Video, and probably elsewhere, too.

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