By Admin | February 22, 2000

There’s a lot of tension in this household, especially when Tom comes home from work. On the surface a loving parent to his sensitive son Tommy, the subtly malevolent Tom, Sr. with his jaundice-yellow eyes, insistently urges his disinterested wife into the bedroom where the emanating sounds induce Tommy into a series of violent seizures. Angered at being interrupted, he emerges from the bedroom and rushes to the boy, in the process ripping Tommy’s teddy bear. In an obtuse bit made possible only because this is animation, Tommy plucks out his eye and transplants it into the teddy bear, which seems to come to life and calm Tommy’s tremorings. Chris Harris’ “Family Portrait” is yet another animation in which the storytelling is nowhere near the level of the animation. The vaguely revolting characters here are unforgettable, resembling mutated humans who have been turned inside out; the muscles clearly visible through the bleach white bones. Their world is beautifully lit, warm and welcoming in stark contrast to their personalities. While an audience might wonder exactly how these beings got this way and what is the source of their unspoken angst, those questions and many others remain unanswered here as Harris is apparently much more interested in providing disconcerting imagery than in telling a good story.

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