There’s a scene in Concussion, the closing film of the Montclair Film Festival, that speaks volumes. Abby (played by Robin Weigert), apres sex with a paying client and clad only in a bra and panties, is astride a counter top in a loft apartment, vigorously ripping apart a brand new tile backsplash with a pry bar. This frenzied moment in the life of a Montclair mom and interior designer turned lesbian hooker, captured by Montclair director Stacie Passon, shows what happens when the furious, desperate need to escape the doldrums of marriage, in any way possible, takes over.
A jarring look at what can happen — in extremes — when couples love each other but lose that spark, Concussion explores the mid-life crisis of Abby, who after getting hit by a baseball in the movie’s open (hence the film’s name), starts to look at her life and finds something is missing.
Abby’s wife (played by Montclair actress Julie Fain Lawrence) is a successful lawyer who is no longer interested in sex. Abby, lost and frustrated with her own life, throws herself first into a loft renovation project in Manhattan, and later, answers a Craig’s list ad for sex with a hooker. When that goes horribly wrong, she pays for a high-end pro, who tells Abby after their encounter that she should start working herself.
Abby (in a brilliant, raw performance by Weigert of Deadwood fame) proceeds to meet and have sex with woman, after woman, after woman in the loft she was renovating that now doubles as a pied-affaire. Weigert was Passon’s first pick for the role; she wanted someone who would be able to have an immersive experience in the character-driven film.
“Robin really went there. She really went there,” says Passon, laughing. “A lot of the sex scenes didn’t end up in the movie because they were far too graphic and didn’t serve the film.”
Concussion is destined for shorthand speak as that “lesbian hooker film from Montclair,” but it’s so much more, which is why MFF Artistic Director Thom Powers described it as the film he couldn’t stop thinking about after Sundance. It’s about marriage, about unmet expectations, lost dreams and where feelings of isolation and desperation can lead.
It’s also an added treat for Montclair residents, who will recognize scenes from the film shot around town including 3Sixty Cycling and Northeast School which both are featured prominently. Even the characters seemed familiar. Besides Montclair’s Fain Lawrence and Claudine Ohayon, Passon’s two children play Abby’s children in the film (“I didn’t want to try and explain my concept to another parent,” says Passon, of casting her kids in the film, who incidentally were great).
Concussion will be released October 4th in a limited theatrical release (25-50 screens, says Patton) and then will go to video on demand.