Anesthesia (2015 film)

Anesthesia is a 2015 independent drama film written, produced and directed by Tim Blake Nelson. Nelson stars in the film with Sam Waterston, Kristen Stewart, Glenn Close, Gretchen Mol, and Corey Stoll. The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 22, 2015.[2] The film was released in a limited release and through video on demand by IFC Films on January 8, 2016.[3]

Anesthesia Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byTim Blake Nelson
Written byTim Blake Nelson
Produced by
CinematographyChristina Voros
Edited byMako Kamitsuna
Music byJeff Danna
Nicholson International Pictures
Hello Please
Grand Schema
Red Barn Films
Distributed byIFC Films
Release dates
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$26,799[1]


Philosophy professor Walter Zarrow is wounded during a mugging. In an effort to escape he rings buzzers indiscriminately, waking Sam, a middle-aged father of two having an affair in the city. Sam reluctantly answers Zarrow's pleas, and Zarrow loses consciousness in his arms. Through an exploration of why these men, along with the mugger, and an addict named Joe, come together, we explore New York City. The experience of Zarrow, Sam, Joe and Zarrow's assailant ripple quickly out to include the connected lives of a housewife struggling with alcoholism, a stoner teen desperate to lose his virginity, a brilliant but failed writer fighting addiction, two parents confronting the prospect of terminal illness, and a brilliant grad student who harms herself to feel alive.



Filming took place in November 2013 in Manhattan.[4]


The film had its world premiere at 2015 Tribeca Film Festival on April 22, 2015.[2] Shortly after, IFC Films acquired U.S distribution rights.[7] The film was released in a limited release and through video on demand on January 8, 2016.[8]


On Rotten Tomatoes, Anesthesia has a score of 25%, an average rating of 4.76/10, based on 44 reviews. The website's critics consensus reads: "Anesthesia's incredible cast is wasted on a sloppily-assembled drama whose grand ambitions are undermined by a flawed screenplay."[9] Metacritic gives the film a score of 55 out of 100, sampled from 19 reviews, signifying "mixed or average reviews".[10]

Anesthesia premiered at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival to generally positive reviews. Dan Callahan of TheWrap gave the film a positive review and praised the performances: "Writer-director Tim Blake Nelson avoids sentimentality in a contemporary drama suffused with anger and vitality" and "It is the anger that runs through 'Anesthesia' that gives it its flavor, its mood, and its ultimate gravity. This film demands to be taken very seriously, and it earns that right. The woebegone despair that is ever-present in Nelson’s face on screen also suffuses the best of his writing here as well as in his direction of Stewart, with whom he joins forces very dynamically."[11]

John DeFore of The Hollywood Reporter wrote: "Any viewer entering the film without wanting to hug Waterston will have a crush by the picture's end, with the actor perfectly embodying a flavor of learned humanism that carries us through a couple of more abstractly angst discussions of society's decay."[12]

David D'Arcy of Screen International praised the film as well: "This finely acted, tender, drama is one of the surprises of the Tribeca Film Festival" and "No surprise, acting is the film’s most obvious strength. Probably due to a low budget and the many schedules that Nelson had to juggle, the style is remarkably natural."[13]


  1. ^ "Anesthesia". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
  2. ^ a b Cox, Gordon (March 5, 2015). "Tribeca Festival Adds Mary J. Blige, Cannibal Cop and a Schwarzenegger Zombie Movie". Variety. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
  3. ^ "Anesthesia". IFC Films. Retrieved November 11, 2015.
  4. ^ a b Honeyford, Holly. "Kristen Stewart Starts Filming Role in Tim Blake Nelson's 'Anesthesia'". Focus Films. Retrieved 29 January 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d e Yamato, Jen. "Tim Blake Nelson's 'Anesthesia' Adds Glenn Close, Sam Waterston, Gretchen Mol, Michael K. Williams, Corey Stoll & More". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 29 January 2014.
  6. ^ Ford, Rebecca. "'Bling Ring' Star Joins Indie 'Anesthesia'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 29 January 2014.
  7. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (May 29, 2015). "Cannes: IFC Nabs Kristen Stewart Drama 'Anesthesia'". Retrieved December 10, 2015.
  8. ^ "Anesthesia". Retrieved November 11, 2015.
  9. ^ "Anesthesia (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 5, 2020.
  10. ^ "Anesthesia". Metacritic. Retrieved May 5, 2020.
  11. ^ Callahan, Dan (April 23, 2015). "'Anesthesia' Tribeca Review: Kristen Stewart, Glenn Close Star in Strong Ensemble of Interlocking Lives". TheWrap. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
  12. ^ DeFore, John (April 23, 2015). "'Anesthesia': Tribeca Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
  13. ^ D'Arcy, David (April 23, 2015). "'Anesthesia': Review". Retrieved May 10, 2017.

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