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Review: 'Resurrection' - Start Making Sense

Kurt Loder on

Rebecca Hall's fearlessness as an actor is well known by now. Who can forget her in movies like "Christine" (2016), the based-on-a-true-story film about a Florida TV anchor who committed suicide on-camera in the middle of a 1974 news show? The picture was a tough watch, of course, but Hall made it engrossing with her penetrating brilliance as a performer and her unsparing commitment to that dark, depressive character.

Her new movie, "Resurrection," is challenging in a different way -- perverse and icky in the manner of David Cronenberg, for one thing, but at the end... well, let's hold off on that for a moment.

Unlike "Christine," the story here isn't lifted from real life, although its outline will be familiar to anyone who's ever witnessed the mating dance of real-world sadists and masochists as they're drawn together to fulfill one another's nature, usually in ill-judged romances. In "Resurrection," Hall and her co-star, Tim Roth, play two people -- Margaret and David -- who once had an intense, unsavory relationship, but then, after a ghastly domestic incident, broke up. Now, 20 years later, Margaret is an executive at a Buffalo biotech company and David, out of nowhere, has just dropped back into her life.

She lives quietly nowadays, focused largely on her 18-year-old daughter Abbie (a tough-spirited performance by Grace Kaufman) and, to a lesser extent, a work colleague and sleep-over sex buddy named Peter (Michael Esper). She is terrified to suddenly see David at a professional conference one day, and then again at a clothing store. Finally, she confronts him at a local park, where she's spotted him sitting paunchily on a bench. He at first denies knowing her, but quickly relents, addressing her by name and mentioning Abbie as well. A smile dies on his face as he turns and walks away.

Soon Margaret is reeling with paranoia, especially after Abbie finds a human tooth in the change pocket of her wallet (isn't David missing a tooth?). In a scene that recalls the Roman Polanski of "Repulsion," we see her making dinner in her kitchen one night and pulling a pan out of the oven containing... well, the last thing anyone would ever want for a main course. By this point we are seriously wondering what is going on with this movie. Fortunately, some helpful explication is on the way, provided by Hall in a mesmerizing seven-minute, single-take monologue, delivered straight to the camera, in which Margaret recalls the beginnings of her entanglement with David, and the terrible course it took as his cold, cruel nature came to dominate. At the end of this tale, we learn a secret so horrible... or so ridiculous, actually... that I, at least, found it difficult to hold on for the rest of the movie.

In a way, "Resurrection" is reminiscent of the 1959 "Suddenly, Last Summer," a movie that tells the story of a closeted homosexual (as it was put at the time) who's trapped and eaten alive by cannibalistic street urchins in a Spanish mountain town. This camp classic, with its script by Gore Vidal, adapting a play by Tennessee Williams, has always struck me as over-the-top hilarious. But at least being ingested by bloodthirsty ragamuffins is something that could happen in our world. The surprise atrocity in "Resurrection" couldn't -- it's much too silly.

 

(Resurrection is in theaters now and will begin streaming on August 5.)

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Kurt Loder is the film critic for Reason Online. To find out more about Kurt Loder and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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