Dir: Stacie Passon. US. 2012. 96mins
A sharp-edged drama about a lesbian housewife turned high-end hooker, Concussion marks an accomplished feature debut from commercial producer-director Stacie Passon. With strong acting from Robin Weigert (HBO’s Deadwood), plenty of piquant black-comic dialogue, and an assured look, the movie has all the right elements. For these reasons, and its explicitly sexy subject matter, the film should perform adequately on VOD and cable outlets.
Weigert, who is in every scene of the film, capably displays a wide range of emotions, from the initial coyness to the heated passion that takes place during her sexual encounters as well as the painful sense of dissatisfaction in her married life.
But narratively, Concussion suffers from a draggy second act and, ultimately, doesn’t stand apart from countless other movies about sex and bourgeois suburban ennui, whether American Beauty, The Ice Storm, Little Children, or the one that started it all, Belle du jour.
Of course, Concussion is different in that the central protagonist, Abby, is a married gay women. But the film craftily suggests that her life and her struggles—to find her identity and self-worth beyond going to the gym, doing the laundry and picking up the kids—is the same as any wealthy heterosexual homemaker.
One day, while renovating a recently purchased pied-à-terre in Manhattan, Abby confesses to her contractor Justin (Johnathan Tchaikovsky) that she visited a prostitute who was “dirty.” Before long, Justin gets Abby in touch with a more refined hooker, and the exciting sexual experience eventually leads her to take on the role of “hot dike housewife,” meeting janes in coffee-shops, then bringing them back to her New York apartment for sex in exchange for money. “I think my hooker name should be Eleanor,” she jokes at point.
It is mainly to the credit of the strong cast that the story comes across as believable. Weigert, who is in every scene of the film, capably displays a wide range of emotions, from the initial coyness to the heated passion that takes place during her sexual encounters as well as the painful sense of dissatisfaction in her married life. There are also some excellent scenes between Weigert and actress Maggie Siff, who plays yet another disgruntled lawyer’s wife and PTO mom seeking sexual adventures to combat her boredom. Passon’s script also skillfully interjects a few comic bits—involving, for example, Abby’s high-achieving female law-student/pimp—to light the story’s heavier aspects.
For too much of the film’s midsection, however, Abby stays on the same emotional register. She continues to meet women, engage in soft-core sexual encounters, keep them from her wife (Julie Fain Lawrence, also solid), and furthermore, doesn’t appear to want to change anything about her new illicit status quo. One expects the inevitable shoe to drop at some point, and when it finally does, the plot turns surprisingly little. It may be the filmmaker’s point that such mid-life ruts are not so easily escaped, which is a bold narrative move, but it may also leave audiences wanting.
Production Companies: The Group, Razorwire Films
Producer: Rose Troche
Executive producers: Anthony Cupo, Cliff Chenfeld
Cinematography: David Kruta
Editor: Anthony Kupo
Production designer: Lisa Myers
Music: Barb Morrison
Principal Cast: Robin Weigert, Maggie Siff, Johnathan Tchaikovsky, Julie Fain Lawrence, Emily Kinney, Laila Robins