Action / Crime / Drama / Thriller

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Rotten 31%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled 50%
IMDb Rating 6.1 10 3363


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June 23, 2016 at 02:09 AM

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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by HotToastyRag 1 / 10

Terrible indie flick

I knew before I started Anesthesia that I wouldn't like it, but even with the very low bar I'd set, it turned out far worse than I'd expected. Unless you have the opposite taste in movies from me, I can't recommend watching it. It's pretty terrible.

The film starts out with one long shot. The camera is stationed across the street from a florist and convenience shop in New York City at night, and we watch as Sam Waterston walks to the shops, buys flowers, picks up some groceries, speaks to passersby, and then leaves the frame. I'm assuming director Tim Blake Nelson wanted the audience to feel helpless and only able to watch the situation, but his constant attempts to appear superior and humble the audience really got on my nerves.

I rented this film, even though the synopsis gave me a pretty big clue I'd hate it, because I wanted to see some good acting. With Sam Waterston, Glenn Close, Gloria Reuben, and Kristen Stewart, I thought I'd be in for an upsetting story with fantastic performances. Unfortunately not. Glenn walks through her very small role, Gloria isn't given anything to do, and Kristen gives an understated performance that just doesn't work, given her character's troubles. Sam is always great. He's a college professor, and during most of his scenes, he gives existential lectures—on paper they're quite boring, but he's had ample experience putting passion into his speeches. There's something about him that just makes you want to cry and give him a hug, isn't there? If you feel that way about the warble in his impassioned voice and the way his entire face lights up when he smiles, you're going to want to stay far away from this movie. In the opening scene, Sam Waterston gets beaten to a bloody pulp and mugged.

The rest of the movie goes back in time and shows several different characters' lives intersecting in the days leading up to the vicious attack. Pot-smoking teenagers plot to lose their virginities, a suburban mom suspects her husband is having an affair, a man tries to put his drug-addicted brother in rehab, and a self-mutilating student turns to her teacher for help. Yes, all these stories sound deep, interesting, and raw, but when you watch them, they fail on all three counts. The entire film thinks too highly of itself, and it's not at all entertaining to watch.

Kiddy warning: Obviously, you have control over your own children. However, due to drug use and gritty violence, I wouldn't let my kids watch it.

Reviewed by SnoopyStyle 6 / 10

good acting

Professor Walter Zarrow (Sam Waterston) and another man are attacked on the streets of New York. Sam (Corey Stoll) comes to his side as he lies dying. Walter was bringing his weekly flowers to his wife Marcia (Glenn Close). His son Adam (Tim Blake Nelson) is dealing with his wife Jill (Jessica Hecht)'s cancer scare. Their kids Hal (Ben Konigsberg) and Ella (Hannah Marks) are dealing with sex issues while smoking weed on the roof. Walter's student Sophie (Kristen Stewart) is struggling with self-harm. Jeffrey (Michael Kenneth Williams) is desperate to force Joe (K. Todd Freeman) into drug treatment. Sarah (Gretchen Mol) is a soccer mom struggling with buried anger. These characters weave a tapestry of interconnected lives.

The cast is top level. They deliver fine individual scenes. There is a compelling drive to uncover the connection between the characters. The connections aren't as poignant as it needs to be. The extended mugging section should come a little earlier so that the characters have more space to deal with the consequences. There is plenty of good acting. The plot is interesting although not the most compelling.

Reviewed by Paul Allaer 8 / 10

Complex and sprawling drama with plenty of flawed characters

"Anesthesia" (2015 release; 90 min.) brings a sprawling story involving a seemingly unconnected group of people in New York. As the movie opens, we see an older guy walking home, buying flowers for someone (his wife we presume), and then just as he gets to his building, something terrible happens, as he is being buzzed in by a neighbor. The movie then goes back in time, and we get to know a slew of people, and how eventually it becomes clear that all of their lives are interconnected, directly or indirectly. At this point we're not event 10 min. into the movie but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

Couple of comments: this movie is nothing short of being a labor of love from Tim Blake Nelson, who wrote, directed, co-produced and for good measure also stars as one of the characters in the large ensemble (playing the son of the older guy). Here Nelson (best known for his acting work) brings us a complicated character study of mostly flawed characters who are dealing with demons of various kinds. Because of the strong story-telling and plot-driven context, it would be inappropriate for me to say much more than that. The movie features a number of noteworthy performances, none more so than Sam "Law & Order" Waterston as the philosophy professor who is pondering his options as his long and distinguished academic career is winding down. What an acting talent this is, a crisp mid-70 years young when this was filmed. Kristen Stewart (as the troubled philosophy masters student) is 180 degrees away from her "Twilight" franchise role, and makes the most of her brief screen time in this. Canadian composer Jeff Danna provides a lovely orchestra score.

This movie was filmed in 2013, and premiered to positive acclaim at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival, but it sank like a stone upon its brief theatrical release in early 2016 (it never even made it to my art-house theater here in Cincinnati). A darn shame. But the movie seems to have found a second wind with the subsequent VOD, TV and DVD releases. I happen to catch it on SHO the other night, and I absolutely loved this movie. No, this isn't a 'jolly good time' as the movie is serious and complicated, but I loved spending time with these characters and wasn't ready to say goodbye when the movie's end credits started rolling. "Anesthesia" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

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