- Consuming Spirits has to be the most original animated feature done to date. It’s a project that obviously consumed and developed in the mind of Chris Sullivan these past fifteen years, He undoubtedly allowed the story to grow in all the time that it took him to make the movie and then had to work the jigsaw puzzle of an edit to pull all the pieces together. The story is probably the most unique aspect in the film, an existentialist development with the characters growing in and out of each other, developing because of freak accidents other characters have had and moving the story along because of the odd relationships they have one to the other. It’s an epic piece ____________ChrisSullivan
of writing told in the most personal way imaginable. There’s been
nothing like it in animation before, at least not in anything I’ve seen.
And the style is allowed to build off of the story as well. Characters move from pencil test to cut-out animation to full color to 3D stop motion backgrounds. Whatever helps the scene is what the look of the film becomes. It’s all done in sort of a primitive drawing technique with watercolors replacing clay backgrounds as complicated cut out characters move through multiplane settings.
As I said, this is an original, a truly Independent animated film. And it’s premiering now at the Film Forum in New York on its first leg of distribution in the US.
Here we see frame grabs from the first several scenes. You can see how easily the style moves from one technique to another, and it feels completely natural to the film.
We move in on a pencil test of a factory.
Through all this the camera, always active, continues to move in and around the settings. A nun is accidentally hit in an automobile accident and the film begins.
It moves slowly and purposefully with characters always, seemingly, in realistic settings, but the settings take on a rarefied air as the complicated story takes on the level of a soap opera and quickly develops into a reality that feels unusual for animation. Finally, there’s a flashback of an ending that completely overturns the cart and makes the story grow wildly.
It’s a peculiar film and a great one, and it’s in the total control of Chris Sullivan who not only wrote, produced, directed and animated it, he also performs the music. This film is a one man band – or maybe I should say a one man orchestra. It has to be seen to be experienced. This is not a film that can be encapsulated in one sentence, nor can it be easily described in twenty.
I suggest you get to the Film Forum to see it where it will be playing for the next two weeks. It opens tomorrow, Dec. 12th and continues through Tuesday Dec. 5th, Christmas Day. It’s about as adult as a film can get, and it lifts feature animation into a new realm.
This is the trailer (thanks to the Gee, in the comments, for the link)
Here is A.O.Scott‘s very positive review from the NYTimes.
Boyd van Hoeij‘s less positive review in Variety.
Ian Buckwalter‘s positive review on the NPR site.