Recovery sounds like something you have seen before. There’s the hardened hero who refuses the help of a new doctor. The story is set in a secluded building and there’s a mysterious killer. It even opens with lots of dead bodies before a title card says, “three days earlier”. Recovery defies audience expectations to be something more interesting and less predictable than it initially lets on.
Recovery is the story of Ronnie Price. Ronnie is a veteran who has become addicted to heroin. She goes to rehab to get out of doing jail time. But something else has checked into the secluded rehab clinic as its patients soon find out.
The story sounds too cliche to spend any time on and at first it seems like it is not going to bring anything new to the table. This is due to Recovery setting up its story and characters. The audience is given a premise they know all too well. Along with Ronnie and the optimistic Dr. Hope, there is the head doctor who does not care about his patients as much as he should and a patient who barely talks due to childhood trauma. There is even a scene involving a “talking stone” that leads to a confrontation.
There are hints there is more to the film, but after the failed group therapy scene, Recovery really begins to open up. The characters all have a sense of desperation that is palatable. These are not people who necessarily want to better there lives; there are people who have nowhere left to go and are barely holding on to what they have. The patients are just as much a part of the atmosphere as the actual setting.
As the story unfolds, Recovery shows its depth. This is more than just a hardened person finding a new lease on life. It is also not just a typical thriller involving a deadly game of cat and mouse. Along with dealing with addiction, the movie touches on PTSD, sanity, loss, why and how we remember, and what we want to forget. It is a whole lot to take on, but director John Liang handles each topic deftly and with care.
Two performances stand out in Recovery. The first is that of Stephanie Pearson, who plays Ronnie. Physically, the role requires a lot as the movie has many fight scenes. But it is in the emotional scenes where Pearson shines. Ronnie goes through a lot throughout the film. She may be a badass, but she is also very vulnerable. There are moments of confusion, fear, and realization for Ronnie. Pearson does a magnificent job in playing a broken person who still has a strong demeanor.
Hope Quattrocki also shines in her first film role. Quattrocki plays doctor Jessica Barnes who is new to the rehab and feels a more understanding touch may work with Ronnie. Quattrocki does not as much play the role as she is the role. She is a shoulder to lean on while also providing support. She also does a great job of walking the thin line between doctor and friend. The audience can tell Jessica is there to help, but first and foremost, she is Doctor Barnes. Quattrocki excels in her debut.
Quattrocki manages to do well even when the script falters a little. During the climax, Jessica acts out of character. The acting is fine, but the dialogue is odd. The fight scenes will be a mixed bag for many. In this day and age when audiences are used to large scale spectacles, the toned down nature of Recovery, may leave some unimpressed. The fights do not look bad; they are just more realistic.
The ending may be the most polarizing moment of Recovery. The film offers up three obvious killers. (There is also a great fake out that will catch the audience completely off guard.) The actual reveal comes out of nowhere and the real killer is a complete surprise. The reasoning is lacking – especially since so many interesting possibilities are suggested – and it seems to be done just to shock.
Recovery is a seemingly simple movie that offers much more than would be expected. There are some strong performances and layered writing. Not content to just be a thriller, the plot deals with deep themes that will be relatable to many who watch the movie. There are some missteps towards the end, but nothing that should take away from the experience.