Thursday, May 23, 2024

“CHICKEN FOR LINDA!”

THE STORY – Paulette feels guilty after unjustly punishing her daughter Linda and would do anything to make it up to her. Linda immediately asks for a meal of chicken with peppers, which reminds her of the dish her father used to make. But with a general strike closing stores all across town and pushing people into the streets, this innocent request quickly leads to an outrageous series of events that spirals out of control, as Paulette does everything she can to keep her promise and find a chicken for Linda.

THE CAST – Melinée Leclerc, Clotilde Hesme, Lætitia Dosch, Alenza Dus, Scarlett Cholleton, Anaïs Weller, Estéban, Patrick Pineau & Claudine Acs

THE TEAM – Chiara Malta & Sébastien Laudenbach (Directors/Writers)

THE RUNNING TIME – 73 Minutes


When one watches enough films, an interesting phenomenon can start to occur. Patterns will inevitably emerge that show themselves within different corners of the cinematic landscape, and a coincidental line forms of works that can fit within a very specific subgenre. It’s an amusing recognition once it happens and never ceases to be a fascinating curiosity. There is one micro-section of genre with many entries that can be deciphered: the tale of a chaotic day in the life of working-class French citizens where the climactic finale is an enclosed apartment complex. It may seem silly to point out such a niche arena, but when one begins counting films like “La Haine,” “Athena” and “Les Miserables,” it becomes an interesting discovery. “Chicken for Linda!” is yet another entry. Though considerably lighter in tone than those other examples, it is also a charming exploration of that niche with a vibrant visual display.

The premise here focuses on the trials between a young girl named Linda (Mélinée Leclerc) and her mother, Paulette (Clotilde Hesme). The pair have a complicated bond, the result of the sudden death of the family’s patriarch when Linda was an infant. Despite the passing years, the grief has never fully left the household and has caused an emotional strain. In an attempt to mend the wounds of a particularly cruel spat, Paulette decides to treat her daughter to a chicken dinner – her father’s specialty. This plan is thwarted in its inception by the workforce strikes happening in the country, which closes down many of the food markets. So begins an arduous journey to retrieve the piece of poultry and reconnect a mother and daughter that have grown distant due to such a personal loss.

What is immediately arresting about the film is its unique aesthetic. The animation does not conform to modern sensibilities, opting for an abstract collage of colors that gives it a painterly sheen. It’s a tactic that endears one to this story, which starts as a slice-of-life analysis and quickly races through a comedy of errors that escalates the bombastic sequences. This commentary is not entirely flawless, as the tone can swerve into moments of slapstick that can get grating after a certain point. Despite its short runtime, the momentum occasionally stalls, especially when precious time is devoted to a slew of musical numbers that amount to little more than tedious song breaks that don’t do much to advance the narrative.

However, there is still an effective core to the film that keeps it captivating. Part of that is the delightful voice work provided by Leclerc and Hesme. Both capture a grounded and believable rapport of a fractured relationship trying desperately to heal through the years of pain that have festered between them. Leclerc perfectly embodies the childish whimsey that is fearless in the steadfast pursuit of a clear goal, while Hemse finds the pathos of a woman trying to keep all the threads of her life from unraveling. They fit nicely within the framework of other characters that texture this world in a complementary fashion. Filmmakers Chiara Malta & Sébastien Laudenbach ensure that the storytelling indulges in frivolity without ever losing the vital catharsis the film is racing towards. As the climax approaches, the vast array of participants makes it a turbulent enterprise of a finale. Yet, there is an engaging aura that is maintained throughout, and one is engrossed by the fanciful showcase.

While “Chicken for Linda!” doesn’t go for quite the high-stakes drama that the aforementioned submissions strive for in this specialty genre, what it does provide is a compelling exercise that draws one into its colorful tapestry. The story finds itself examining the lives of simple people working through their tragedy as a series of wildly tumultuous events unfold. This portrait isn’t consistently enthralling and can be hindered by its tone and pacing. However, what remains at the center is an impactful presentation of a loving relationship that manages to endure amongst the frantic intensity of such happenings. The results are a luscious canvas that one easily chooses to embrace.

THE RECAP

THE GOOD - A charming and endearing story. Unique visual aesthetics that emphasize the vibrant and colorful imagery. The voice performances, particularly from the leads, are compelling.

THE BAD - The narrative’s momentum can sometimes stall, especially with some tedious song breaks. The more slapstick sections of the humor can be tiresome.

THE OSCAR PROSPECTS - Best Animated Feature

THE FINAL SCORE - 7/10

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Josh Parham
Josh Parhamhttps://nextbestpicture.com
I love movies so much I evidently hate them. Wants to run a production company.

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<b>THE GOOD - </b>A charming and endearing story. Unique visual aesthetics that emphasize the vibrant and colorful imagery. The voice performances, particularly from the leads, are compelling.<br><br> <b>THE BAD - </b>The narrative’s momentum can sometimes stall, especially with some tedious song breaks. The more slapstick sections of the humor can be tiresome.<br><br> <b>THE OSCAR PROSPECTS - </b><a href="/oscar-predictions-best-animated-feature/">Best Animated Feature</a><br><br> <b>THE FINAL SCORE - </b>7/10<br><br>"CHICKEN FOR LINDA!"