Sundance Review: Rebecca Hall & Tim Roth In ‘Resurrection’

Resurrection is a tedious, one-note paranoiac thriller that never shifts gears to get out of its rut. With classy production values and a tony cast led by Rebecca Hall and Tim Roth, writer-director Andrew Semans’ first feature in a decade, since the similarly plotted Nancy, Please, grinds on trying to build suspense but doesn’t have much of a clue as to how to tease and tantalize an audience. A significant theatrical release for this Sundance Premieres item seems most unlikely.

. - Credit: Deadline
. - Credit: Deadline

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As her character slides from fear and concern into all-out anger and legitimate paranoia, Hall is asked to carry the film almost entirely on her own, which would be beyond the talents of almost any performer given the virtual single-track emotional journey involved. There are no sub-plots or side trips here, no nuances or, God forbid, dark humor, only an increasingly tiresome trip that never pays off for either the characters or the audience.

Hall, whose mere presence confers a sense of confident intelligence upon any character she plays, is Margaret, a career woman with a daughter Abbie (Grace Kaufman) whose boyfriend is not treating her right and whose father is nowhere in sight.

In fact, there’s scarcely a trace of either happiness or stability for anyone in this story. Abbie suffers a bad cut on her leg and her mother insists she remain at home for her 18th birthday. During a business conference, Margaret panics, has a dreadful vision of a fetus in an oven and then has bad sex with her boyfriend. It’s a fun time all around.

To try to compensate for all the misery, Mom decides to teach her daughter how to really drink, which doesn’t exactly end in great merriment. After spotting a guy in an Albany, New York, department store who looks very much like Tim Roth, Margaret rushes Abbie out and shortly proceeds to fall apart at an office presentation. The next day, when the Tim Roth look-alike turns up in a park, Margaret angrily yells at him to go away and “Stay away from me and my kid.”

Even though the Roth fellow hasn’t yet done a thing, Semans throws in an entirely expository scene at a police station at which Margaret informs that she and this Roth fellow–who by now actually has a name, David–were once involved but split 22 years earlier, when she was 19. Her next step is to take out her gun.

As the film from this point ramps up toward a showdown between the increasingly creepy David and Margaret, who insists that her ex killed their baby and ate him too. David’s diabolical position is that kid is still inside him and says that, “If you kill me, you kill him.”

Daughter Abbie has little patience with her mother at this point and any sensible viewer might side with her by this point, and yet the tale rattles on for quite a while longer. The weird story, the relentless bad behavior and Margaret’s complicity in buying into David’s games makes for aggravating viewing and asks for a lot from audiences to buy into it all. There are no plot twists or character revelations of the sort that one can savor in a really good mystery or thriller, and the unvarying pace and tone merely add to viewer frustration with the very concept of this peculiar drama.

It’s a thriller that’s no fun at all.

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