In theatres this Friday from writer/director Tim Blake Nelson and IFC Films comes the moments in our lives when we all become intertwined with a little “Anesthesia.”
Prof. Walter Zarrow (Sam Waterston) is found at the entrance to an apartment building bleeding. Found by Sam (Corey Stoll) the shock rolls back the clock one week in the lives of all those intertwined in the event.
It begins as Professor Zarrow tells his wife Marcia that he is ready to retire and spend time doing what ever it is retired professors do. Sophie is a young student of Professor Zarrow who can not seem to find her place and must finally tell her professor that help scares her.
Joe (K. Todd Freeman) is a man in pain and losing his way with drugs controlling every aspect of his being. Trying to be a good friend is Jeffrey (Michael K. Williams), a high powered lawyer, helping but at the same time puts secure distance between them.
Sam (Corey Stoll) is having an affair while wife Sarah (Gretchen Mol) finds solace in alcohol or honking her horn at the irritating drive up the school line. Her daughters have noticed the change and lash out with no end in site.
Another family in the midst of madness when Mom Marta (Natasha Wagner) discovers she is ill and Dad Adam (Tim Nelson) tries to keep everyone calm. Daughter Ella (Hanna Marks) is determined to remaining unfeeling if she can help it and son Hal (Ben Konigsberg) can’t decide between a joint or his virginity.
It is a collision course of lives surrounded by every possible human emotion.
FINAL WORD: Waterston as Professor Zarrow is so lovely. He is a man seemingly happy with his life, career and wife. During the scene where he is speaking with drug-addicted Joe, it is a touching moment when he explains what gives him the greatest joy. I will gladly admit to always having been a fan of Waterston and this film absolutely cements my continuing enjoyment of his career and this performance.
Stewart as Sophie gives a powerful performance of a woman who knows the world has become electronic and can not find her place in it. Feeling lonely and in need of interaction, Stewart has a moment in front of her professor that is telling and the confusion that gets deep inside us all from time to time. In her case, pain can be found at the end of a curling iron.
Freeman as Joe is a man who is angry at everyone. Determined to end his own life through a life of drugs, his friend Jeffrey played by Williams puts him in detox but doing a good thing doesn’t always end well. Williams wants to help but, as happens sometimes, wants to live his own life without the worry or responsibility of his friend.
Marks as Ella is a young woman angry about life and does a good job being angry. Wagner as Marta wants to bring her family closer but that’s hard to do when your afraid for your own life. Nelson as Adam is trying to bring the family close in the midst of what could be devastating news for the family Konigsberg as Hal is a typical teenage boy who thinks he can fly by hiding his emotions with cynicism and disrespect.
Mol as Sarah is a woman who isn’t happy with her life and when daughter Baum as Allie points it out to her, then change is drastic and sudden. Stall as Sam is a husband who is drifting away from his family rather than doing his best to bring it together. His idea of finding happiness comes in having an affair.
Other case include: Lee Wilkoff as Ray Eisenberg, Yul Vazquez as Dr. Barnes, Gloria Reuben as Meredith, G. Michelle Robinson as Gracie, David Baker as Delvin, J. Bernard Calloway as Lemons, Katie Chang as Amy, Scott Cohen as Dr. Laffer, Philip Ettinger as Roger and Glen Close as Marcia Zarrow.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give “Anesthesia” three and a half tubs of popcorn out of five. This is such a heartfelt film about the lives of so many diverse individuals about pain, fear, realization, life and the thought that there might be a second of hope in the heart of us all.
The film is beautifully done and it doesn’t crowd itself with music, loudness, or extraneous nonsense. Instead, it lets each one of these characters show you there story with thoughtfulness, feeling and, at times, a sense of sadness that is deep.
Each actor in the film brings something to the story in the way of their performances. It is so interesting to see intensity on so many level expressed in so may different ways. From the teens to the adults, the confusion and unhappiness of these characters lives all comes to a standstill in one instant.
In the end — who we don’t know can save us.