Resurrection is a deceptively precise entry into the rape and revenge genre. Although rather minimalist in comparison to the brilliant schlock that the genre traditionally offers, this isn’t to say that the movie is without design, without a distinct visual eye. If anything, there’s almost an excess of orderliness here, a terrible neatness that Andrew Semans’ imbues in his movie, both visually and narratively. And it escalates not so much with a flourish but with a tightness, like a vice slowly turning until cracks appear and a shatter seems imminent.
Margaret (Rebecca Hall) is a professionally successful woman preparing for her daughter’s first year of college. Her life is traditionally nontraditional: single mother, “cool” boss, affair with a colleague on the side. It’s not so much that she has it all; it’s more that she has it all together. Margaret has everything under control–her apartment as neat as the stillness of her expression. Cracks begin to appear, of course, first with her daughter’s impending departure. Then, simple anxiety gives way to deep-seeded terror when a mysterious man (Tim Roth) re-enters Margaret’s life, toppling her carefully controlled existence.
The movie is so potent for two reasons. One is Semans’ impeccably cohesive visual and narrative crafting. The other is Rebecca Hall. She’s incredible in this–there’s echoes of Mia Farrow’s Rosemary here, with the whole movie feeling like a direct descendant to Rosemary’s Baby. Like Farrow before her, Hall leads the movie to places it might not otherwise have reached, offering unexpected introspection to the viewers. Hall, and Resurrection, are not so much concerned with a woman breaking down and getting even. Their focal points, like Rosemary’s, are on the way an abused woman must navigate the world around her. For Rosemary, it was the power structures denying her agency in the face of abuse, and for Margaret, it’s these same power structures, as well as the internal structures that an abuser groomed and built into her.
The apex of this performance is the movie’s centerpiece, a cut-free, 7-minute monologue from Hall. The camera closes in on her slowly, so painfully slowly, and Hall subtly bares all to the offscreen listener. Both revelatory and frightening in what she reveals—and how she changes—the whole movie turns on this scene, with Hall’s anxiety and terror influencing every scene that follows.
The aforementioned vice tightens slowly in Resurrection, as does Hall’s decline from controlled to frenetic performance. Tension builds, horror unfolds, and overwhelming precision gives way to something shocking, fantastic even. It doesn’t end in shattering noise, it ends with dreadful silence.
dir. Andrew Semans
Available digitally and on demand Friday, 8/5