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The Independent Critic

STARRING
John Wesley Shipp, Kiana Harris, Corbin Jones, Polly Adams, Tyler Seiple
DIRECTED BY
Cole Simon
SCREENPLAY
Jeremy Sony
MPAA RATING
NR
RUNNING TIME
100 Mins.
DISTRIBUTED BY
Glass City Films
DVD EXTRAS
Theatrical trailers; Commentary track; Behind-the-scenes feature; Early teaser scenes
 "Separation Anxiety" Review 
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We should all have lived for something...

Originally performed as a stage play by Columbus, Ohio's Curtain Players in 2007, Separation Anxiety follows two childhood friends, Quinn (Tyler Seiple) and Jess (Kiana Harris), as they prepare to gather in their hometown for the funeral of their best friend, Bailey (Corbin Jones).

Quite often, transferring a film from stage proves to be a daunting task with the finished product either feeling too "staged" or so much of the original material is lost in the adaptation that it feels as if the original material has gotten lost in the translation. While this critic certainly never saw the stage version of Separation Anxiety, director Cole Simon appears to have beautifully adapted Jeremy Sony's material to the big screen in a way that captures the energy and intimacy of a stage performance while making the material big enough that it comes alive on the big screen.

It helps that Separation Anxiety is gifted with a marvelous cast that seems to have tapped into a unified vibe blending more than just the inherent grief that would have been birthed out of the tragedy, but also capturing beautifully the soulful connections that had woven together the lives of these characters.

As the two surviving friends, Tyler Seiple and Kiana Harris are very much at the heart of Separation Anxiety.

Seiple's Quinn left the Midwest for a job out West and now finds himself struggling to deal with his grief while stuck at the airport, where he's befriended by Lily (Polly Adams). Lily has her own experiences with grief, and watching the two of them emotionally joust back and forth brings to mind, in a sense, the bargaining that often companions the grieving process. Seiple touchingly brings to life Quinn's guardedness, an emotional reserve that constantly feels like it's simmering to the point of boiling over.

Kiana Harris gives an extraordinary performance as Jess, a heartbreaking intertwining of confusion, anger, sadness and sheer numbness. Harris seemingly lives these emotions within her entire physical being, giving Jess layer after layer that is slowly peeled away as the story of Bailey's tragedy unfolds. She's spending the morning with Bailey's father (a strong John Wesley Shipp), attempting to make sense out of the senseless.

D.P. Justin Cameron lenses the film simply yet beautifully, lending a naturalness and intimacy to the film. Jake Coco's original music companions the film with rich humanity without ever crossing the line into the maudlin. Filmed in Columbus and Toledo, Ohio, Separation Anxiety makes excellent use of its scenic surroundings, while Adri Siriwatt's production design captures both the joy, particular in early scenes, and the starkness of grief once the tragedy occurs.

Released and available now from the Midwest-based Glass City Films, Separation Anxiety brings vividly to life a story that is simultaneously intimate yet larger than life. Behind a strong ensemble cast and sensitive, well-constructed direction from Cole Simon, Separation Anxiety is a great example of the quality indie cinema being created right here in the Midwest.

Visit the Glass City Films website for information on ordering the DVD!

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic  
    The Official Rating Guideline
    • A+ to A: 4 Stars                
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    • C: 2 Stars
    • C- to D+: 1.5 Stars
    • D: 1 Star
    • D-: .5 Star
    • F: Zero Stars

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