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  • Writer's pictureMax Markowitz

Resurrection

Dedicated Organic Brilliance



Resurrection scrutinizes irremediable tragedies of violence, manipulation, murder, sadism, grief and loss, the prey and the predator, the parent, and the child all connected in one way or another through history. All are people in hiding and all are hiding something. Sometimes, yes, there are brief escapes but they are never everlasting. The psychological impulses that are released in order to survive may be damaging in their own fashion but who knows what the alternative is?


The outcome is a film of dedicated observation. The most evolved will understand who these people really are and the woman at the center of it all, but the rest will never understand her physical endurance because no one is that kind of person until they have to be.


Rebecca Hall’s leading performance as Margaret Ballion isn’t what I would call delivery of her finest work but rather devouring of it. If a performance so magnificent and so worthy of being placed next to the greatest performances of all time looks like a clean ice cream bowl, Hall immediately bends her head forward and eats with only her mouth and no utensils before washing the bowl with Dawn dish soap. There’s just something so physical and unapologetic in her performance, it’s something I can only refer to as animalistic.


For most people, control is about power. For Margaret, it’s about sustainability. Keeping everything in order. She’s a successful independent biotech executive with a 17-year-old daughter Abbie (Grace Kaufman) who’s about to leave for college whom she raised all on her own. She has a scheduled, sexually fulfilling, no strings attached affair with her married co-worker Peter (Michael Esper) and runs like an invincible athlete every day.


Everything is going according to plan. Until she sees David, (a mesmerizingly repulsive Tim Roth) a man she knew from 22 years ago. Films about some kind of victim having to relive their trauma because their abuser comes back into their life have really become their own genre for filmmakers. Every year, films with this plot are released and they’re usually for cheap, ingenuine, lazy, predictable entertainment purposes.


Resurrection is NOT that kind of film. It’s not like any kind of film. Resurrection has filmmaking techniques and styles that remind me of certain directors (Sean Durkin, Lars Von Trier, and Yorgos Lanthimos to name a few) but the film itself is just too original to be placed next to anything else. It has such a newness to it. Films don’t usually have so little censorship. Actually, Resurrection has none at all. Even the MPAA rating system couldn’t rate this film.


You may try and predict the specifics of what happened between Margaret and David and I can promise you that whatever you come up with, you’ll be wrong. You will never in a million centuries foresee the grotesque that was their relationship. Don’t try to figure it out, you’ll never get there.


Nearly halfway through Resurrection, Margaret is alone in her office at night after everyone else has left and her young intern Gwen (Angela Wong Carbone) is about to leave too. Gwen comes in to say goodnight and after conversing for a few minutes, Margaret delivers a 7-minute monologue that should qualify Hall to take a permanent seat among the gods of acting. For 7 minutes, Margaret reveals everything, what happened, how it came to happen, and what the consequences were. Gwen is in the room but the screen only stays on Margaret's face. She’s not even looking at Gwen. She’s just looking into space completely disoriented.


Gwen’s reaction may make audiences laugh but it’s actually completely blood boiling and so in line with how most people would react if the specifics of someone's trauma is shared. Gwen initially smiles and says all the right things (“I’m here for you if you want to talk, I’m a really good listener, I won’t tell anyone) but when the truth finally comes out it’s too much for HER to handle. Once Margaret tells her to forget about it and pretend it never happened, Gwen is more than happy to comply. She smiles sweetly and just says “Ok, feel better” and walks out. The only future interaction Gwen has with Margaret is to make sure she’ll get a good letter of recommendation after her last day.


Resurrection just hits the nail of trauma on the head with a hammer so hard and gets it so right in ways no other film in history has before. Specifically, the loneliness that comes with trauma. Gwen’s reaction after the monologue is a perfect example. People will always intend to be there for you but if what you experienced is something beyond the physical and psychological boundaries of what most people can take, you’re completely on your own. It's a kind of loneliness that hurts more than the trauma itself.


People who view Resurrection as over the top clearly haven’t lived at all. They may have struggled quite a bit but suffering is something altogether different. People really are that violent, that insane, and that excited to inflict pain. In America and everywhere else.


“Sadist’s never understand why others don’t enjoy their sadism as much as them,” Margaret tells Gwen in the opening scene. Sadists know what they’re doing. The physical aftermath of trauma is what they intend. Hall lives and breathes all of it. Trauma makes you so exhausted, your face ages rapidly, you have trouble sleeping, your pores grow wider and your voice gets deeper. Margaret’s not spiraling into madness. The madness is already there. She’s just spiraling.


Most of what David says to her throughout the film is clearly untrue but Margaret does what he says and believes him so sincerely because his manipulation of her was so coordinated. He tells her to walk barefoot to work just because he can. Just because he knows she’ll do it and she does. Under the boiling sun, she walks across the street and several blocks until she gets to her building where she takes her shoes out of her bag and puts them on her feet that you don’t see but know are red as lobsters.


Resurrection has such a dreamlike almost perverted weirdness to it but it’s a weirdness that exists. People will laugh at the weirdness because it's deeply uncomfortable. Andrew Semans wrote and directed Resurrection after recently becoming a parent and taking care of a friend who was coming out of an abusive relationship. He really approached Resurrection more like a reporter than a filmmaker. Maybe that’s his style. He's passionate and I’m very eager to see what he does next. Rebecca Hall who just made her directorial debut Passing which she also wrote has been successful for many years now and audiences who know her from The Town, The Gift, Christine, and The Night House will now know her from Resurrection.


Jim Williams’ (Who composed Titane, my favorite film from last year) score really helps tell the story. Some scenes tell more and terrify more without music. Williams is very respectful of this and just like in Titane he only makes music for scenes where it’s absolutely necessary. Every time I hear the music, I can immediately sense why that scene needed it and what the music is trying to tell us about Margaret at that moment.


I can’t imagine viewers having the stomachs to watch Resurrection a 2nd time but some films do require multiple viewings to truly get it and Resurrection is one of them. There’s nothing wrong with that. Art is meant to be revisited.


Not many films have it in them to make sheltered people more caring. I don’t expect Resurrection to do so but I’d like to think viewers will swallow their desire to forget about the film and talk about it with other people. It’s played in New York, LA, and Philadelphia for a couple of weeks but then went straight to streaming. I suppose that’s for the best. Resurrection just isn’t a movie to watch with other people. Even if you really trust them.


Resurrection contains freezing below zero cruelty, absolute on-fire evil, red as wine blood, guts, and gore. Sometimes it feels like a documentary no one’s tried making before. Imagine surgical videos med students have to watch. That’s what violence is like. It’s not Hollywood violence, It’s something I honestly feel is almost organic. You’ll have to look very very hard to truly see it but Resurrection is ultimately a film of progression. There is hope for cinema. Many filmmakers have it in them, to tell the truth, no matter the reception, no matter the cost. Like Margaret, they just lost all control.



Squires, J. (2022). ‘Resurrection’ Poster – Rebecca Hall Tries to Maintain Control. Retrieved August 22, 2022, from https://bloody-disgusting.com/movie/3717803/resurrection-poster-rebecca-hall-tries-to-maintain-control/.



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