As Consuming Spirits opens, an over-worked, middle aged woman driving a school bus hits an elderly nun who is running across a dark street. The driver drags the nun into the woods, and after attempting to revive her with iodine and gauze, leaves her to die, shoddily hidden beneath some woodland debris.
And such is the case with almost everything in Consuming Spirits, particularly the lost and hidden history that connects Gentian and her co-workers: Victor Blue (Chris Sullivan), an alcoholic, “life-long social services case” who also works in paste-up; and Earl Gray (Robert Levy), a weathered, whiskey-soaked old man, who writes the paper’s gardening advice column, and hosts a late night radio show, where he imparts botanical wisdom in the dark hours (...with some twisted wisdom on subjects far from the garden as well).
Within and around the “news is truth” setting of The Daily Suggester, the film illustrates and explores storytelling in its various formats: those which are lies and know themselves to be; lies which have fooled themselves; hard-edged no-nonsense black and white journalistic photos touted as objectivity; the newsreel; the magical flourish; the headline pasted over another headline; the story cut up with scissors and re-arranged; the tales told with toys, tin soldiers, and dolls, no matter how dark its subject.
Amidst all the visual marvels, there is a lot of pain in Consuming Spirits -- a visceral pain. And yet, the movie is also extremely funny. This is not a film for the passive viewer. Many of the best jokes come and go quickly, usually via scribbled words -- on morgue documents, passing truck, grocery tins, and pornographic magazines. To give away the plot of Consuming Spirits, even in a base elemental form, would ruin the experience of the film, since so much is revealed in surprising and unusual ways. Consuming Spirits is a film like no other -- original and stunning.