Erotic, but about more than the sex, droll, but about more than witty lines and cutting observations by and about bored suburban moms, “Concussion” is a most promising first feature from writer-director Stacie Passon.
It’s well-acted, sometimes poignant and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny. Passon’s little domestic melodrama about the demands of motherhood, the dullness of upscale suburbia with its Pilates-hot yoga-ladies who lunch, hangs on what could have been just a gimmick, but isn’t.
So don’t call it “Desperate Lesbian Housewives.”
We meet Abbey (Robin Weigert), 42, covered in blood, racing to the hospital and cursing the rambunctious son who whacked her in the head with a ball. The damage is probably superficial. But you never know, so there are tests.
That blow to the head might have shaken up Abbey’s world. Is she content to gossip, jog, do exercise classes and listen to the blah-blah-blah chatter of women whose horizons are as limited as hers? Her wife (Julie Fain Lawrence) is older and has lost interest in sex. And Abbey isn’t inclined to suffer all this in silence.
She’s a decorator who buys, fixes up and flips lofts “in the city” (Manhattan). And she tells Justin (Johnathan Tchaikovsky), her hunky young contractor, everything.
“You’re like, a swinger, right?”
Abbey confesses that she just visited a hooker, and it didn’t work. One thing leads to another, and Justin sets her up with “The Girl,” a mysterious madam who arranges a better quality of gay prostitute.
Stick with me, here.
One thing leads to another, and very quickly, the mother of two, who throws fabulous dinner parties where gay and straight neighbors meet and mingle without a hint of awkwardness, is working for “The Girl,” with Justin as their go between.
“You’d be my…what?” she asks him, coyly.
“Let’s…not…go there. I’m just the guy who sets things up.”
Abbey soon finds herself screening (“We can meet for coffee. Or tea.”) and then having a paid tumble with awkward young women looking for an older woman experience, or lonely, sex-starved women closer to her own age — who come to her unfinished loft for an assignation, and maybe a little judgment about her decorating choices.
Meetings with “The Girl” (Emily Kinney, a stitch) are both all business and hilarious.
Meetings with clients have a hint of the absurd in them. Abbey hands an overweight, inexperienced girl books on diet and sex.
“‘The Essential Gandhi.’ It’s an excellent book for weight loss.”
Of course there are consequences, predictable enough. And a gorgeous neighbor (Maggie Siff) threatens the whole notion of anonymous, consequence-free fooling around.
Sasson doesn’t do much with her title metaphor, doesn’t make much of those Abbey neglects with her new side career. Hot sex scenes? Sure, a few. And some of the downside of the trade is suggested. The whole “bored so I became a hooker” thing is a little played out, even with the lesbian twist.
But “Concussion” deserves more of an audience than just the film festival circuit. And it’s not just an introduction to a writer-director with talent, but to a slew of under-employed and superb actresses, and the hunky Tchaikovsky.
MPAA Rating: R for strong sexual content and some language
Cast: Robin Weigert,Johnathan Tchaikovsky, Maggie Siff, Julie Fain Lawrence, Emily Kinney
Credits: Written and directed by Stacie Passon. A Weinstein Co. release.
Running time: 1:37