Rebecca Hall’s 7-minute monologue on “Resurrection” is a tour de force

Show, don’t say. That’s usually a cardinal rule in filmmaking—at least for everyone but Aaron Sorkin. The use of abundant dialogue can be seen as a narrative crutch, a missed opportunity for actors to use their bodies to tell the stories on the page. This is what can make monologues so powerful in the right context; When an actor is so adept at revealing detail in their face and body, the chance to shine through both words and whims can be staggering.

Such is the case with Rebecca Hall’s riveting seven-minute one-take monologue resurrection. Not only is it the most stunning moment in the film, it’s one of the best performances in a film this year.

resurrection follows Hall’s character Maggie, a mother and businesswoman who has retired to a quiet life with her daughter Abbie (Grace Kaufman) who is preparing to go to college. One afternoon, she spots David (Tim Roth), a man from her past, sitting a few rows away from her at a conference.

Unsure if what she’s seeing can be real, Maggie flees and sprints all the way home in a fit of adrenaline-pumping fear. After seeing him in public twice more, Maggie confronts David and tells him to stay away from her and her family. David’s response seems nonsensical to the audience, but Maggie perfectly understands the strange things he says to her.

As in most real-life stalking cases, the police won’t help Maggie, she’s trapped with no one to tell what’s happening to her. Late at night in her office when Maggie’s intern Gwyn (Angela Wong Carbone) stops by to say goodnight. Noticing Maggie’s distress, Gwyn says that Maggie always needs someone to talk to, she’s a good listener. Gwyn wants to return the favor after Maggie gives her advice on making her voice heard in her own relationship. Maggie looks at her with wry sincerity. “Do you think you could kill someone?” she asks.

Gwyn says she can’t but encourages Maggie to keep going. “Have you ever done anything bad?” she asks Gwyn. “I did, unforgivable.” Gwyn and Maggie both feel the boundaries between boss and co-worker being pushed, but Maggie has nowhere else to go. She is bereft, unable to tell her daughter or anyone else in her life the horrors she will shoulder upon Gwyn’s shoulders.

Maggie tells her that when she was 18, she traveled with her biologist parents to a research facility in Canada, where the family met David. “He noticed me,” Maggie says. Hall lets this line land and keeps eye contact with Carbone offscreen while the camera lingers on her. Maggie and Gwyn both understand what it’s like to be a young woman in the world, feeling seen by someone for the first time. You also both know how men use this feeling to their advantage over and over again.

Maggie continues as David nursed her. He charmed her parents and worked his way into their everyday lives. It wasn’t long before she moved in with David. “All I knew was that for the first time I felt important and valued,” says Maggie. “So I didn’t object when he started asking me to do things. ‘Friendliness’ he called them.”

David’s “kindnesses” were not sexual in nature. Instead, they were actions he used to slowly wear Maggie down over time without her noticing. At first just cooking and cleaning, until he told her to give up drawing, her passion. She was committed every time and he rewarded her. Until the kindnesses developed and became stranger. Endurance tests, hours of meditation, days of fasting, holding stress positions. “The more I did, the more inspired he became. Said he could see the future, said he could hear God whisper his name. And I believed him,” says Maggie, and that’s where Hall’s voice starts to crack.

Instead of looking at Gwyn as she recounts these horrors, she is dazed and staring at nothing in particular, looking back at her memory for the first time in 22 years. Hall confronts and transmits the entire darkness of Maggie’s past with such genuine sincerity that it takes the audience’s breath away. But she’s far from done.

“Whatever he asked for, I could hack it. And if I couldn’t, he told me to burn myself with cigarettes. But I could hack that, too.” Hall executes the punch with resigned acceptance. Her eyebrows are raised and the corners of her mouth curl up slightly in a surrendered grin. Maggie can’t believe this happened to her either.

Hall’s monologue plummets into pure, unfettered horror as she begins to detail what happened between Maggie and David when Maggie realized she was pregnant. The turn that the already incredible story takes is almost biblical, it’s so amazing. As you watch Hall dish out all this unimaginable trauma, your stomach sinks lower with fear at every new detail, every new wrinkle in Maggie and David’s relationship that you believe could never be possible.

But because of Hall’s stunning performance, it all sounds perfectly true. Your commitment to this account is simply breathtaking. As the monologue reaches its climax, Hall has slowly raised her eyes from the floor in the last few minutes and is staring straight at the camera, shedding a tear. She begs, begs us to listen to Maggie, to believe the utterly unbelievable. With Hall’s performance, we have no choice but to do just that.

After the monologue is over, the question throughout the film is whether or not the events Maggie is describing in those seven minutes actually happened. Are they by-products of the parts of herself she gave to David in his kindness, memories twisted and corrupted to take the face of even more sinister abuse? Did they even happen?

Like any good thriller resurrection wants us to wonder, to be puzzled about the reality of it all. But the genius of the film, and Hall’s performance in particular, is that it works just as well if you never question what was being said in that monologue. Perhaps it’s my own experience of being in a manipulative and emotionally abusive relationship—much lighter than Maggie’s atrocities in the scriptures—but it didn’t occur to me to question the veracity of her story. Our world is a world where very shitty things happen to people they could never have invited – really is Maggie’s story So unbelievable?

Over two decades later, the unsustainable horror of what Maggie went through has etched itself deep into her bones. It’s original, and David’s presence has thrown a switch that can’t be turned off. That twists that resurrection Takes after Hall’s monologue, particularly its confusing ending, lend themselves to further debate. But this amazing seven-minute one-take monologue is an undeniable achievement. If there is justice, it will be more than enough to get Rebecca Hall the recognition she has long deserved. Rebecca Hall’s 7-minute monologue on “Resurrection” is a tour de force


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