concussion-movieWhen a film opens with David Bowie’s Oh! You Pretty Things, it has set itself up for greatness. Instantly intrigued and endeared to the project at hand, the next, and somewhat more challenging job for the filmmaker, is to then maintain that distinction, and director Stacie Passon does a more than commendable job, in what is an accomplished debut feature film.

Robin Weigert plays Abby, who finds herself rushed to hospital by her partner Kate (Julie Fain Lawrence) when her two kids accidentally throw a ball at her, cutting the side of her face open. It’s this act of clumsiness which proves to be the icing on the cake for the property developer, who longs for something new in her life, something licentious, to take her away from the tedium of this modern suburbia and the ring of Stepford Wives surrounding her. So when the opportunity arises to become an escort to female clients, she willingly abides, allowing herself to alter her own identity, taking on the pseudonym Eleanor.

The first time we meet Abby she’s nursing a cut on the side of her face, and she’s humanised instantly, we see a weakness and vulnerability from the start, allowing for a bond to be formed between the character and viewer, which proves to be essential as we progress through this tale. Concussion is an immensely intimate character study, and it’s fascinating to delve into a somewhat submissive society, and cling on to a woman so desperate to break free. The poignancy and profundity of the film is enhanced given her age too, as she appears more well-versed and seasoned, and as though she’s running out of time to get things right, with little room left for frivolity and spontaneity, complete with a sense of urgency. When Johnathan Tchaikovsky’s Justin claims that this vocation is “just not you”, she responds with, “I’m 42, something has to be me by now.”

Though somewhat callous in parts and disregarding of her partner and two children, Weigert’s nuanced performance ensures we remain empathetic to her cause. Passon moves between her illicit, sexual encounters, and her home life, both informing the other and ultimately making for a compelling piece, as the juxtaposition is so stark. Passon plays on this notion as we can hear a child’s voiceover while Abby is at the doctors to get checked out. It’s also intriguing in how the character carries those maternal tendencies into her vocation, as she treats young clients solicitously, while her naivety towards the industry makes for a character we can connect with. The sex too is portrayed accordingly, and never titillating in any way, portrayed with a subtlety and naturalism, which serves this title well.

Concussion is wonderfully shot too, and a confident and accomplished debut for a filmmaker with a promising career ahead of her. Though American films about middle-aged lesbians are undoubtedly difficult to finance, hopefully efforts such as this can encourage studios to back projects of this ilk, as while the territory may seem alien to some, this plays so heavily on raw, human emotions that anybody can relate to.