By Robert McDermott | Drama
A doctor's accident is questioned during a fight for the custody of his daughter.

Norman, a father and an anesthesiologist, is embroiled in a custody battle for his daughter with his ex-wife.

But when a past accident is called into question and becomes an important piece of evidence against him, the fight gets more complicated and fraught with emotion. Pushed to the brink and supported only by his sister, Norman takes desperate action — and finds himself in a collision with his past that may affect his future with his daughter.

This dark psychological drama — directed by Robert McDermott from a script by Benjamin Enos — weaves a tense story about family, divorce and broken bonds, following one man’s attempts to fight for his child and the desperate attempts he makes to keep her.

Shot in a dark, moody style that imbues the story with an almost film noir-ish atmosphere, the visuals draw out what becomes a compelling subtext to the domestic dispute. Norman is not just dealing with his custody battle, but he’s carrying a deep, heavy secret inside of him.

The storytelling carefully develops and then draws out the central mystery of the accident, and just what role Norman may — or may not — have played in it. The answer emerges, tethering the reveal of the accident with the full extent of Norman’s character — and forming a compelling portrait of a misunderstood character type.

Actor Brandon Barash has the tricky task of bringing to life a character defined in part by a lack of connection. Yet he and the writing are able to hit upon the one connection that can break through the glass wall that separates him from the rest of humankind — one that allows audiences to bring compassion to his character, though it also makes the end of his arc in the story quite sad.

“Sedation” uses its family-based conflict to explore what it means to be numb towards the feelings and humanity of another person, examining the consequences of this general lack of empathy has on a marriage and family, and ultimately Norman’s future. Many times sociopathy and general anti-social personality types are used in crime stories and thriller-type narratives, and the filmmaking approach here definitely emphasizes the tension of the story. But here, it’s examined on its own terms and through an intimate arena, making clear the human cost of disconnection.

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