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Film review: 'Anima'

12 June 1998 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

Uneven and not always animated enough to be involving, "Anima" is a stark, grim tale of a reclusive, marionette theater-producing elderly couple harassed by a rabid TV reporter on the hunt for a juicy story.

With a bucolic New England setting and unsettling focus on taxidermy, the at-first-promising 1997 indie digs its own grave with lackluster performances and a progressively inane plot.

The second feature from Rhode Island-based writer-director Craig Richards ("By a Thread"), "Anima" screened recently in the American Cinematheque's monthly Alternative Screen series.

Richards tries to spice up the storytelling with flashbacks and lyrical sequences, but more often the character development suffers. Bray Poor lacks charisma in the key role of cynical media hound Bill, and he plays the snaky opportunist with a lazy insolence.

More palatable as long as they move silently through their comfy hideaway in evocative scenes, George Bartenieff and Jacqueline Bertrand portray Sam the one-time legend of stuffed animals and his longtime companion Iris. Trying to make something of a routine assignment, Bill has to dig a little to find Sam and Iris, but he's not disappointed.

Alas, retired taxidermist Sam has a dark secret dating from his early years in Germany, but slippery Bill has trouble just getting him to talk about his deathly art for the TV project. Indeed, the whole news angle is tiresome, with Bill's annoying two-man crew (Geoffrey Cantor, Mark Mineart) providing feeble comic relief.

After trying to record Iris' accomplished cello playing, Bill is kicked off the farm by Sam, but there's still a mystery that no one wants solved. With no clear motivation, Bill pursues the story and intrudes on Sam after he's preserved dead Iris' body. More laughable than touching, this lurid climax leaves one cold.

Header: Fri, Jun 12, 1998, 10, End of Header.

ANIMA

Tangent Films & Other Pictures

Writer-director: Craig Richards

Producers: Dan Partland, Christopher Roberts

Director of photography: Randy Drummond

Production designer: Bonita Flanders

Editor: Kelly Korzan

Music: Joel Diamond, Adam Hurst

Color/stereo

Cast:

Sam: George Bartenieff

Iris: Jacqueline Bertrand

Bill: Bray Poor

Cam: Geoffrey Cantor

Hans: Mark Mineart

Running time -- 90 minutes

No MPAA rating

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1 item from 1998


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