‘Resurrection’ Sundance 2022 Review – Rebecca Hall Delivers a Breathtaking Performance In This Heavy Psychological Thriller

Rebecca Hall appears in Resurrection by Andrew Semans, an official selection of the Premieres section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Wyatt Garfield.


Margaret’s life is in order. She is capable, disciplined, and successful. Soon, her teenage daughter, who Margaret raised by herself, will be going off to a fine university, just as Margaret had intended. Everything is under control. That is, until David returns, carrying with him the horrors of Margaret’s past.

Several movies at this year’s Sundance Film Festival have largely been about people surviving (and overcoming) some kind of traumatic event. And Andrew Semans’ Resurrection certainly continues that trend. Featuring an absolutely breathtaking performance from Rebecca Hall, Resurrection puts the “psychological” in “psychological thriller.” Less of a traditional thriller and more of a portrait of a woman’s life falling apart, Resurrection is a heavy watch. I’m not entirely sure it’s an enjoyable experience. But it is endlessly captivating and frequently confounding.

Captivating, Bizarre, and Unnerving

Margaret (Hall) seems to have her life in order. She’s got a good job, a nice house, and a solid relationship with her daughter, Abbie (Grace Kaufman). But when David (Tim Roth), a man from her past, reappears after decades, all of that carefully refined order gets thrown into chaos. As Margaret feels her past catching up with her, she desperately tries to protect herself and Abbie from any danger – real or perceived. But the harder she tries to maintain control, the more things fall apart. From there… Well, that’s giving it away. And the less you know about Resurrection, the better. Plus, I couldn’t even begin to explain the latter half of the plot even if I wanted to. I’ve never felt as gaslit by a movie as I did while watching Resurrection. I mean, halfway through, it stops feeling like you can trust anything you’re seeing on screen.

And, to be fair, that’s almost definitely by design. Between Margaret’s unreliability as a narrator and the film’s increasingly convoluted story, Resurrection seems more designed to mirror Margaret’s gradual unmooring from reality rather than adhere to traditional narrative restraints. And in that regard, the movie succeeds with flying colors. But whether or not it results in an enjoyable experience is questionable. While the first and third acts are quite captivating, the second act feels overlong and sags under the weight of the character exploration – despite how good that exploration is. It follows all of the trademarks of these kinds of thrillers, but without offering any of the usual catharsis. And at a certain point, you just have to be willing to follow the movie wherever it’s going. It’s a captivating, unnerving journey, to be sure. But that’s exactly what it’s meant to be.

A Pitch-Perfect Exploration of Trauma

Interestingly, the thing Resurrection does best is also what makes it such a difficult watch. Resurrection offers a pitch-perfect examination of trauma and the way it can overpower someone’s life. Margaret has spent years trying to move on from a traumatic relationship and the extremely traumatic event that ended it. And despite all the progress she’s made, the moment David reappears, all of that trauma just comes creeping back. And it’s hard to watch. The movie does an absolutely brilliant job of exploring Margaret’s unraveling mental health. It’s an incredibly layered, realistic portrayal. But because of that authenticity, it’s also deeply unpleasant to watch. Early on, the film so accurately depicts Margaret having a panic attack – showing her unable to catch a breath, feeling like her world is gonna close in on her – that it actually started to give me a tension headache.

Now if that sounds like an insult, it’s not. Because it really is rare to see a movie so accurately portray this kind of thing onscreen. And on some level, it’s quite admirable that Resurrection does that. But it also means that if you’re easily triggered by such things, you should probably steer clear of this movie. I will say that while Resurrection avoids falling into the trap of feeling exploitative of trauma, it’s still just really difficult to watch. The movie follows Margaret’s mental decline to its logical conclusion and it’s absolutely heartbreaking to see. In many ways, the film invites the audience to join Margaret on this journey. And it makes for a captivating, unique watch. But a very painful one, too.

Rebecca Hall Delivers a Breathtaking Performance

Everyone’s gonna be talking about Rebecca Hall’s performance. And rightfully so. She is incredible here – from that incredible 7+ minute long monologue she delivers around the halfway mark to the brutal authenticity she delivers throughout the film. Every aspect of her performance is an absolute masterclass in acting. And if she doesn’t win some kind of an award for her work here, it’d be a crime. Her performance can be a hard one to watch, for all of the reasons I’ve already mentioned. But that doesn’t make it any less impressive. Hall perfectly balances every aspect of Margaret’s personality – her love for her daughter, her desperation to hold her life together, and the deep regret she feels about her past. And she combines them to create this breathtakingly layered and authentic performance. Honestly, her performance alone is worth the price of entry.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, Resurrection is an extremely well-made film that’s also quite difficult to watch. It’s a pitch-perfect exploration of a woman being wholly swallowed up by trauma. Rebecca Hall delivers a breathtakingly authentic, painful performance. And the rest of the cast do equally impressive work. Emotionally, it might be one of the most brutal thrillers at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. But it’s also one of the most unique ones. It stands out amongst a crowded field of other psychological thrillers. Whether or not you like it is largely gonna depend on exactly how much you can handle. As for me, Resurrection is destined to be one of those movies I appreciate but never want to see again.

Resurrection had its World Premiere in the Premieres section of Sundance Film Festival 2022.

Director: Andrew Semans

Writer: Andrew Semans

Rated: NR

Runtime: 103m

Rating: 3.5 out of 5