‘Anesthesia’ is frustrating, in the sense that it’s brought together so many famous faces, and doesn’t know what to do with them. Tim Blake Nelson’s ensemble indie features powerhouses like Kristen Stewart and Sam Waterston, but while it should thrive, it just flatlines.
Anesthesia is yet another “everyone-is-connected” drama, a la Crash, that attempts to bring together multiple storylines featuring tons of famous faces, to melodramatic effect. Tim Blake Nelson‘s film starts out with the tragic mugging and stabbing of Sam Waterston‘s (Law and Order, Grace and Frankie) elderly professor, Walter, and from there, we get a glimpse into the lives of so many people who are supposedly connected to him. Sadly, the film barely answers that itself.
From the trailer, Anesthesia seems like a Kristen Stewart film, but don’t be fooled; her performance is masterful, but she is barely in the film for more than 15 minutes. Kristen plays a troubled college student who has taken to burning herself with a curling iron because she needs to feel something real; she can’t exist in a world where people are “too plugged in” to their devices to care. There’s a scene in which a bro talking on his cell yells at her for “killing trees” while she’s studying in the caf. Yeah, that seems a little over the top.
The film starts with Walter being attacked by an unknown assailant outside of an apartment building as he walks home to bring flowers to his wife Marcia (Glenn Close); he’s discovered by a tenant who hears his cries for help (House of Cards‘ Corey Stoll). From there, we flashback to people who ostensibly have some kind of connection to this event: a bored, drunk suburban housewife (Mozart in the Jungle‘s Gretchen Mol), a husband (Nelson himself) attempting to deal with his sick wife (Breaking Bad‘s Jessica Hecht), and their unruly teens — one who’s having serious psych problems herself (Awkward‘s Hannah Marks).
We meet a lawyer (Boardwalk Empire‘s Michael K. Williams), who’s halfheartedly trying to help his childhood friend (TMNT‘s K. Todd Freeman) kick his heroin addiction. Then, of course, Kristen attempting to deal with her self destructive habits. There’s not a clear relationship between the stories (say like racism in Crash), but there’s a vague sense that it could be that each of these characters is trying to numb themselves.
The problem is that the connection isn’t cohesive enough. It instead feels like a bunch of random (though good!) shorts haphazardly pieced together to make a feature-length production — which is why when all characters come together at the end in some way in the light of Walter’s tragedy, it just doesn’t feel all that sad. CLICK HERE to buy Kristen’s new movie Clouds of Sils Maria!
HollywoodLifers, are you going to see Anesthesia? Tell us your thoughts about the film in the comments!