While most of its proceedings see Rebecca Hall’s bonafide performance at the front, Resurrection (2022) struggles to find its depth. Nonetheless, this is a memorable thriller that’s resolved in the least expected but also shocking way.
Margaret (Rebecca Hall) has it all. A daughter she loves and deeply cares about. A job that’s challenging and fulfilling. Good sex with a no-string-attached deal. On paper, her life’s good.
Comic book fans acquainted with The Killing Joke might recall the famous quote from Joker in which he explains that all a man needs to go insane is one bad day. Although Margaret’s life seems in order, it’s a grotesque house of cards, prone to collapse under any vehement move or blow of the wind. That transitional moment arrives when she notices a man sitting a few rows closer to the stage during a medical symposium Margaret attends. Upon taking a good look, Margaret’s self-sculpted monument tumbles down in a matter of seconds, storming out of the room, then frantically running to bust the doors of her apartment open.
Some would argue, and I’d ardently agree, that the one day from Joker’s quote is, in reality, the final drop that spills water out of a cup. Prior to this descent into madness is always a series of signals that something’s wrong. That’s true for Rebecca Hall’s character, for whom the brief flash of David (Tim Roth) pushes her to spiral into a complete psychological meltdown, which instantly amps up the tension.
Frankly, it’s nothing new for Hall to play a character that goes into full disintegration such as this one. She flexed similar drama muscles earlier in The Night House (2021) in a role that bears resemblance to that in Resurrection (2022). Margaret loses her grip in an almost textbook manner. Hall marvels – from angry gazes, through a drastic physical change, and harsh attitude towards others, Margaret’s transmutation is vivid and palpable.
The script smartly starts with this premise of how ghosts of the past return to haunt the protagonist. Tim Roth’s a devil in disguise, a type of creep whose calming nature is also his most efficacious weapon. Every scene between Hall and Roth electrifies. It’s hard to call it chemistry – provided the main theme of their mutual past. I’d describe it as a strange blend of repulsive dependency with a years-long Stockholm syndrome that’s quite a disturbing watch. Each time Margaret seems to steal a march on David, he uses another mind trick to regain control. Weirdly enough, he calls these tricks kindnesses, which is a strange choice of words considering the lengths Margaret goes to make them happen.
Moreover, as explained in a jaw-dropping, minutes-long monologue of Rebecca Hall, her connection with David anchors a horrific mystery – one that she reveals to the least probable person – an intern in her company. Not to spoil things, but that’s a flabbergasting concept conceived in the mind of Semans; an adhesive gluing David and Margaret that sounds so unbelievable one cannot shake off the feeling Semans can’t provide a satisfying conclusion. Honestly, I don’t know if he does. The ending of Resurrection (2022) is bonkers, tragic, mind-fucking, and bizarre all at the same time. I still didn’t make up my mind.
Nonetheless, it’s not the very fact of losing ground under one’s feet that will make Resurrection (2022) stick with you, but how this madness circles back to Margaret’s daughter, Abbie (Grace Kaufman). At the core of Resurrection (2022) exists a touching drama about motherhood, and as such, this story delivers in its entirety. Margaret’s existential crisis, propelled by the overwhelming lack of safety, is projected on Abbie, and it’s not long before she too is drawn into a pathological game of David and Margaret. This collateral damage, inflicted upon a frail teenager, feels even more disturbing than what Semans has to offer in other aspects of the story.
While this is, by all means, a Rebecca Hall show, other pieces of the puzzle fit well. Jim Williams puts his skills to ooze ominous aura (as displayed in his brilliant work in Possessor (2021)) to good use, dressing Resurrection (2022) in sounds of grim electronic ambients. Andrew Semans succeeds as both writer and director, maintaining a very meticulous pattern of a growing threat. Luckily for the director, this all checks out because this film couldn’t be in more capable hands than Rebecca Hall’s. Whatever beef I might have with its conclusion, this stands out and will continue to do so over the whole year.