Written and directed by Andrew Semans, Margaret’s life is in order, she is capable, disciplined, and successful. Everything is under control, that is, until David returns, carrying with him the horrors of Margaret’s past. Starring: Rebecca Hall, Tim Roth, Grace Kaufman, Michael Esper and Angela Wong Carbone.
If you’re stepping into Resurrection simply expecting a psychological thriller, then yes you will get that but also a lot more. One of the surprising and extremely effective tactics which Andrew Semans employs is to slow play the reveal, it takes over thirty minutes to even find out how Margaret (Rebecca Hall) knows David (Tim Roth). It really lays into you with its intensity, the pacing ramps up the tension and suspense, it gets you on the hook then drops a bomb. From that point onwards things go fully down the rabbit hole and leave you in awe of just how far this could possibly go, and chomping at the bit to find out. It’s a strong example of an emotionally and physically abusive relationship, as well as the long-lasting psychological impact and how easily the behaviour and mentality of the survivor can be re-triggered. The only contentious point is potentially the ending, its use of metaphor or imagination may not work for everyone, and does raise a question of whether using such devices strengthen or weaken its realism and serious themes.
Whereas there is no point of weakness or debate with its directorial style and cinematography (by Wyatt Garfield), they’re utterly strong throughout. There’s a crisp texture to the aesthetic, it’s perfectly matched with the intensity of the story to capture the darkness and fear. One of the choices that works particularly well is its simplicity in key moments; having possibly the most vital scene purely be one shot of Rebecca Hall in a monologue. It’s superb and speaks to the overall quality, it chooses so well where to put its focus, when to speed up, when to slow down, to truly embrace all the different emotions at work. Realistically, looking at the film as a whole, not that much actually happens but it gets such a firm grip on you, that it feels non-stop.
While Rebecca Hall has often appeared in comedy and romance, she is not an actress to be underestimated, when she gets the chance to break out her full range of skills, it’s a wonderful thing to behold. Resurrection is the perfect example of that talent, the evolution of her character and the trauma and psychological damage that she’s portraying is excellent, she has you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. Tim Roth’s impact is similarly fantastic, he’s not even physically present for a great deal of the film but the moments he is, make a lasting impression. It’s baffling why more filmmakers haven’t taken advantage of this side of Tim Roth, he’s perfect for bringing that edge of creepy, persistent, controlling, manipulative and cleverly dangerous. Grace Kaufman rounds out the trio well, facing her mother’s descent and upping the fear by adding another perspective. She does a great job of tapping into that horrified feeling, seeing such an intense loss of control but having no clue as to what’s happening, other than that her safety is threatened.
Resurrection is gripping, intense, unexpected and led by yet another superb performance from Rebecca Hall. It builds an almost overwhelming tension, then hits you with bizarre details which bring the possibility of anything and everything onto the table. It’s fantastically shot to push the intensity as far as it can go, it holds your attention with ease from start to finish as it builds a fervent hunger to find out where this will end up. It’s a unique and potent exploration of abusive relationships and their long lasting and inescapable psychological impact.