13th Jan2016

‘Anesthesia’ Review

by Catherina Gioino

Stars: Tim Blake Nelson, Sam Waterston, Glenn Close, Gretchen Mol, Kristen Stewart, Corey Stoll, Mickey Summer | Written and Directed by Tim Blake Nelson


We asked O Brother Where Art Thou?. We’ve seen him help dig Holes. We watched him hang with presidents in Lincoln, with superheroes in The Incredible Hulk and The Fantastic Four. And of course, pulling over Robert DeNiro and Ben Stiller in Meet the Fockers. And now we see him change roles in directing, writing, producing, and starring in Anesthesia.

Anesthesia is Tim Blake Nelson’s second feature length in which he held all four roles, after the success of Leaves of Grass. Along with Nelson, the film stars Sam Waterston, Glenn Close, Gretchen Mol, Kristen Stewart, Corey Stoll, Mickey Summer, and more.

The film follows Walter Zarrow (Waterston), a professor who goes to the corner deli to buy some flower for his wife Marcia (Close). He has a conversation with the store keeper and finally introduces himself after buying flowers from him for oh so many years. However, as soon as we cut away from Zarrow, we see he was stabbed just outside an Upper West Side building.

From this simple beginning scene comes the opening of the whole story: the film follows people who are all living in a state of being without actually living. The characters are just doing things to get by as opposed to actually living: a topic that Nelson as a character and as a writer brings up often in the film. Nelson comes along to play Adam, Zarrow’s son, whose wife, Jill (played by Jessica Hecht) is dealing with cancer. Corey Stoll plays the good samaritan Sam, who came to Walter’s rescue after he was stabbed, and we follow his life in New Jersey where Gretchen Mol plays his investment banker wife. Kristen Stewart and K. Todd Freeman become involved at school, all the while each and every character has to come to terms with facing reality and the challenges it brings.

A film completely revolving around life in New York City, Nelson has stated before that he “has lived in New York City for over two decades. Like many I came for a discreet period (four years of graduate school) but could never leave. My wife and I are now raising children here. Anesthesia hopes to explore the colors, cadences and maddening contradictions of this extraordinary place, and to do so in the context of questions I can’t stop asking myself.”

Anesthesia is on limited release across the US now.


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