With two kids, a mini-van and a lull in their love life, Abby and Kate are not much different from their suburban neighbors. The fact that they’re a married lesbian couple is beside the point – it is less important than their domestic apathy - yet still central to Stacie Passon’s assured, candid and clever film Concussion.
Abby is played by Robin Weigert (Calamity Jane from HBO’s Deadwood), whose role in the family is to be at home and school when their son and daughter need to be dropped off, or picked up. She has a side business of buying, rehabbing and flipping New York City apartments with her sexually adventurous friend, Justin, played by Johnathan Tchaikovsky. Abby’s partner, Kate (Julie Fain Lawrence), is a divorce lawyer whose schedule mandates that Abby be more accessible. The ironic side effect, though, is that it seems to have made her more detached.
Abby has grown bored with the predictable and, on a whim, hires a female escort for a furtive encounter. The experience so enlivens her that she actively pursues Justin’s suggestion that she, too become an escort – which she does under the name Eleanor. She eventually builds a clientele that ranges from a breast cancer survivor to an overweight 23-year-old virgin to the mother of kids who go to school with her own.
It may sound way far-fetched (and a little Lifetime movie) to work, but the tone of Passon’s script and direction and Weigert’s hearty embrace of her character’s nuanced frustration make it entirely plausible. And though some of the dates are unapologetically sexual, they don’t come off as lurid or even all that explicit.
Concussion is strikingly contemporary for the way it blends Abby’s and Susie’s relationship into the suburban milieu; they’re surrounded by couples of all kinds, for whom sexual orientation is a non-issue. Though many Americans may find this novel or alien, to others, it’s the status quo. The movie is in fact bold for the way a same sex couple is shown exhibiting a malaise with which couples of any combination could empathize.