The title of Stacie Passon's new film "Concussion" is a bit of a misdirect. The eponymous baseball accident in the first five minutes of the film could well be the cause of everything that follows, but it could also be little more than an instigating incident--a fluke of life that separates what was before from what is now. It's a testament to Passon's subtle and somewhat conflicting film that it's impossible to tell just what the concussion in "Concussion" really signifies.
Abby (Robin Weigert) is a housewife in the suburbs of New York with two kids, a divorce lawyer wife named Kate, and a comfortable life filled with equal parts spin class, yoga and ennui. When an errant ball thrown by Abby's son at a baseball game lands her in the ER, she undergoes a journey of personal and sexual self-discovery.
But that phrase is a little too pat to address the complexities of this film. Abby, a sometime decorator, tells Kate at the hospital with an ice pack to her eye that she's getting back to work; she soon buys a fixer-up loft in the city to remodel and flip. The apartment becomes the site of a series of secret trysts, where Abby goes from buyer--with a young woman recommended by Justin, the strapping young twentysomething who helps Abby with the remodel--to, well, seller, with Justin's girlfriend finding the girls for Abby's newfound "work."
But while extramarital sex fuels the plot of "Concussion"--and there are a lot of excellent, sensitive and sometimes uncomfortable scenes of intimacy in the film--this sex is at heart an outward expression of the deeper lack of fulfillment that Abby struggles with. "Concussion" is really a film about middle age, monogamy and self-worth, and, of course, about sexuality and gender--the kind of sustained look that long-term, adult, queer relationships are so rarely given in film.
In its subject matter--and its unabashed sexuality--"Concussion" is a gutsy film, all the more so given its helmer, Stacie Passon, is a first-time feature director, and its star, the remarkable Weigert--best known for playing Calamity Jane on "Deadwood"-- in her first leading film role. It helped, of course, that Rose Troche--a seasoned writer and director known best for her feature "Go Fish" and her work on the Showtime series "The L Word"--signed on to produce the film after helping Passon develop the script.