In ‘Resurrection,’ Rebecca Hall Is a Single Mother Pushed to the Edge
Rebecca Hall deals with unspeakable trauma and grief in her latest film, the psychological thriller “Resurrection.” Hall plays Margaret, a British woman and single mother living on the East Coast. One day, her life begins to unravel, and she is soon confronted by her horrifying past. Hall gives a powerful performance as the relatively peaceful life Margaret has worked so hard to build for herself and her child is threatened.
Outwardly, Margaret has everything together. She has a successful career as an exec for a biotech company and provides a comfortable life for herself and her almost 18-year-old daughter, Abbie (Grace Kaufman). She even offers informal therapy sessions to Gwyn (Angela Wong Carbone), a young intern in a toxic relationship. However, her own personal life is hardly exemplary. She is having an affair with a married colleague, Peter (Michael Esper), and she is protective of Abbie to the point of being suffocating. As the date on which her daughter is to move out to attend college approaches, Margaret becomes ridden with anxiety, but what pushes her over the edge is the appearance of an older man from her past, David (Tim Roth).
Margaret first spots what appears to be David at a conference, and she is so shaken that she runs home to make sure that Abbie is okay. She starts to have terrifying visions, including one of a charred baby, which comes to make sense once her backstory is revealed. Later, she sees David again and confronts him. She later unloads the whole story of her past on poor Gwyn, and the gist of it is that David groomed her when she was 18 and subjected her to unthinkable cruelty. In present day, he still has a hold on Margaret, despite the fact that she had not seen him in 22 years. She gives into his crazy demands in hopes that he will finally give her closure and leave her alone. Abbie sees her mom losing her grip and stages an intervention with Peter, which only exacerbates the situation.
“Resurrection” is the second feature from filmmaker Andrew Semans, and he does an excellent job of exploring the impact of generational trauma. Margaret states that her parents were naive and easily manipulated by David, and she is determined to protect Abbie at all costs. In her mind, she is just being a good mother, but it is apparent to Abbie and the viewer that she is infringing on the young woman’s independence and projecting her trauma onto her. In one striking scene, Margaret tells her daughter that she would never let anyone hurt her, words that do not reassure her, but only add to her anxiety, and she tells her mother as much.
“Resurrection” is a great showcase for Hall, as Margaret’s mental status declines and she finds herself resorting to drastic measures in order to exorcize David from her life, once and for all. Even throughout the underdeveloped third act, which is otherwise a bloody mess, she goes above and beyond with her performance. All of this leads to an ambiguous ending. Semans might say that he is leaving certain things up to the viewer’s imagination, but it just comes off as lazy storytelling.
“Resurrection” releases July 29 in select theaters.