MRR Review: "Concussion"

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After a blow to the head, Abby decides she can't do it anymore. Her life just can't be only about the house, the kids and the wife. She needs more: she needs to be Eleanor.
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MRR Review: "Concussion"

Rating: R
Length: 96 minutes
Release Date: Oct. 4, 2013
Directed by: Stacie Passon
Genre: Drama

What happens when love and family just isn't enough anymore? First-time writer and director Stacie Passon hopes to address that question and many more in her first feature-length film, "Concussion."

Abby (Robin Weigert, "The Sessions") is a married woman with a wife who doesn't really understand her and children who only care about their own needs. While she doesn't love her life, she also doesn't know what to do to change it. After suffering a blow to the head, she suddenly makes a series of changes and discovers that life holds more possibilities than she thought.

"Concussion" opens with a shot of Abby talking to her wife Kate (Julie Fain Lawrence, "Fare Well Miss Fortune"), but the film doesn't make a point of showing that the two are lesbians. Passon does a smart job of showing that they're just another married couple dealing with the same issues that any other married couple face. In those early scenes, a wayward baseball cracks Abby on the head, and her personality changes almost immediately.

Kate is so busy with her job that she barely notices the changes taking place in her wife. Abby not only wants more out of life than she had before but also finds herself dealing with a voracious new appetite that Kate can't satisfy. After meeting with a prostitute, she meets a man who offers to help her find a way into that world. Before long, Abby finds herself taking clients and finding the sexual connection she craved with dozens of other women. The further she falls into that world, the further she gets from her wife and family. When the two worlds collide, Abby must decide which is best for her.

Passon does a great job of showing the coldness that Abby feels in her daily life. Though she attends spinning class, meets with friends for coffee, and works on apartments in the city, she clearly isn't happy with her life. She spends far too much time with the same women, but she wants more than just coffee dates and exercise classes. Early in the film, she meets Sam (Maggie Siff, "Michael Clayton"), and the flirtation they share is a far cry from the relationship she has with her wife. The scenes between Abby and Kate are so cold and impersonal that some viewers will eagerly await the scenes between Sam and Abby.

Though Abby clearly has a crush on Sam, Sam seems happy with her life and her husband. When Sam later shows up as one of Abby's clients, their chemistry is palpable. The electricity they share practically jumps off the screen, and the two are one of the best onscreen couples of the year. Although they are at completely different points in their lives, they find that they have more in common than they previously thought and that they both need more.

"Concussion" briefly touches on the idea of aging and what growing older means to different woman. Nearly every client Abby meets is a younger woman confused about her feelings, and Abby serves as a mentor for those women. She somehow knows exactly what they want and need after spending just a few minutes with each of them. That all changes when she meets a client whose name is never revealed (Laila Robbins, "Side Effects"). This woman is significantly older than her, which makes Abby take a closer look at her own life. Passon introduces Robbins' character as a future version of Abby, showing viewers what could happen to Abby if she doesn't gain control of her life.

This film rests on the shoulders of Weigert, and she does a phenomenal job carrying it. Viewers only get small glimpses of Abby's life before the concussion, but Weigert does such a great job portraying Abby in the present day that most viewers won't care about her life before the accident. She shows Abby as a woman stuck in a life she doesn't want but who also struggles to reconcile her new feelings with her old life.

Passon doesn't linger on the idea that this is a film about a woman who prefers the company of other women. She lets viewers know right away that Abby and Kate are a couple, and she shows them in a classic scenario. Though they once shared a deep love, Kate is now content with her life the way it is, while Abby wants someone who can make her feel the way Kate once did. By the end of the film, many viewers will find themselves thinking long and hard about their own relationships.

"Concussion" is a dark film that has a few lighter moments. It touches on ideas about aging, femininity, what it means to be a mother, and how life can hold untold opportunities. Those looking for a film that offers a realistic look at middle age will enjoy "Concussion."

Rating: 3 out of 5