Andrew Semans’s Resurrection, which closes a 10-year gap on his first feature, demonstrates a disquietingly effective eye for the intricacies of tone that characterize the frazzled, smoke-screen sensibility of a paranoid thriller, even if it is, at times, unevenly and bafflingly executed.
The eponymous resurrection in question concerns the trauma associated with Margaret’s (Rebecca Hall) historic relationship with David (Tim Roth), an older man who, during their cohabitation, initiated an escalating scale of control, manipulation and abuse that culminated in a horrifying incident leading to her escape to America. For two decades, Margaret has lived in the shadow of her relationship with David, constructing disciplined personal and professional realms to maintain a certain equilibrium. Reluctant to engage romantically, she casually sleeps with her colleague, David (Michael Esper), while growing increasingly insecure about her daughter Abbie’s (Grace Kaufman) growing independence and imminent departure to college. The scaffolding that structures her life is obliterated by the return of David, who quietly stalks her in public places, keeping his distance in order to immunise himself from police action. Margaret doubles down on her protective instincts in order to shield herself and her daughter, leading to the alienation of Abbie, and the erosion of her own sanity.
Resurrection is at its most effective as an allegory about gaslighting and the crippling longterm effects of being trapped in a controlling relationship. Cold, hard home and office interiors indicate an inner constructed world that has eliminated distraction and maximised efficiency of energy and emotion as a survival tactic. This is now her world and her comfort zone, disrupted only by the return of her abuser. In the maddening spiral of fear-induced insomnia that she is subsequently plunges into, a picture is painted of the way in which gaslighting is internalised by the victim leading to all logic being thrown into doubt, a picture that is intense yet, over the course of its runtime, disappointingly sporadic and uneven. Hall’s visceral performance nonetheless encapsulates this spiral with devastating rawness, while Roth’s perversely magnetic performance is utterly terrifying: calm, collected, snarling ruthlessness embodied.
The final act of the film is, while almost Kubrickian in its symbolic ambition, unfortunately where much of the groundwork unravels. It takes that Kubrickian level of detail and potency to veer from the realistic line of a narrative into an altogether more fabulistic poeticism as Resurrection attempts in its horrifying, almost Cronenberg-esque finale. In the end, it is a case of, “I can see what you were trying to do, but it just didn’t quite work”, which is a shame, considering the things the film gets so right.
Resurrection does not have a UK release date yet.
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