FILM REVIEW | Concussion18th May 2014
This is the story of a mid-life crisis where a marriage between a lawyer and an ex-real estate house flipper turned housewife who live with their two kids in a comfortable affluent NY suburb starts to get stale. ★★★★
The housewife busy with running the home, taking Pilate classes with her friends, and hanging out with the other soccer kids’ mums doing the daily school runs etc., is bored out of her head. The same head that gets hit very hard one day when her son accidentally manages to throw a ball at it causing some bloody damage.
It results in not just concussion but some sort of epiphany that she needs to make some changes to her life.
The edge that this story has over similar tales of marriage woes is that this couple are lesbians which doesn’t alter the reality of marital disharmony but it makes it take on a whole different resonance.
Abby goes back to work and buys a Loft in the city to refurbish and flip throwing all her energy into the project. It’s a start, but she is still sexually frustrated as her wife Kate, a divorce lawyer, seems to prefer celibacy. So Abby hooks up with hooker, but the woman she picks from a newspaper ad turns out to be dishevelled drug user and the experience is far from happy, something she confides to Justin her contractor/friend who is working on the loft with her. Justin’s girlfriend just happens to run a call-girl service out of her college dorm and so she insures that Abby gets a very hot date for her next encounter.
It whets her appetite for sex, but at $800 a pop this is more than she can afford on a regular basis so Justin suggests that maybe the answer would be for her to turn tricks herself. Evidently there is a need for a beautiful older woman… Abby is 42… especially to service young wealthy women looking for an experienced lesbian. It takes time to persuade Abby to decide and even then when she accepts she insists on doing it in her own terms i.e. meeting clients in a coffee shop first. And thus ‘Eleanor’, Abby’s new persona, is born.
At the beginning most of the clients are indeed young but when Eleanor gets one who is even older and sexually more experienced, she really starts to relish her new role. And then to top it all one of her new clients turns out to be Sam, a married ‘straight’ woman friend from her own town who she has always quietly lusted after, the fantasy of her new life becomes very real indeed.
Abby insists that ‘Eleanor’ only has a few clients a week so that she can maintain all her usual routines at home, and very conveniently now that the loft is finished she even has a place for her assignations. Her wife Kate is so wrapped up in her work and being the ‘other’ mother at home that she is completely unaware that Abby has created this other life just to get some sexual fulfillment, and even when the penny eventually drops, she really doesn’t want to accept when she sees.
It’s an intriguing drama that is primarily convincingly real because of exceptional and sensitive performance by Robin Weigert as Abby/Eleanor. She insures that we empathise with her from the very beginning, and although it is essentially all about satisfying her needs there is something very laudable about Eleanor as she goes out of her way to insist that the other women get the fulfillment they are craving too.
It is an impressive writing/directing debut from Stacie Passon, and it was very beautifully filmed so that the sex scenes were never explicit but extremely erotic. The plot started to waffle slightly towards the end as if it was unsure of how to resolve the drama, but that still doesn’t stop it from being an extremely watchable fine piece.