Review: Chicken for Linda!
- Chiara Malta and Sébastien Laudenbach deliver a dizzying, playful, joyous and moving work about the revolutionary power of childhood
"We have to learn to accept the little setbacks life throws at us. Stay calm!" In life, yoga, good intentions and attempts to ward off our dark cloud of bad memories do sometimes work, but it’s not always the case and, oftentimes, it takes a revolution to shed light on the darker recesses of our memory. And such revolutions can result in sparks, as happens in the effervescent and beguiling movie Chicken for Linda! [+see also:
film profile] by Chiara Malta (acclaimed in Toronto 2019 for her fiction feature Simple Women [+see also:
film profile]) and Sébastien Laudenbach (very well-received in 2016 via The Girl Without Hands [+see also:
Unveiled in the ACID line-up of the 76th Cannes Film Festival and selected for the official competition in this week’s Annecy Animated Film Festival, the Italian-French duo’s movie sows infectious good humour - underpinned by wholly accessible comic action - in its highly inventive and libertarian wake, whilst simultaneously exploring impossibly serious subjects with great subtlety: the grieving process, the complex relationships between mother and daughter, and between sisters, friendship, childhood, the question of authority and of collective mentalities on housing estates, all set against a backdrop of a country on general strike.
"I’m going far away and you’ll be left all on your own – I don’t like the house, it’s old and ugly, there’s always a problem with it. And you don’t know how to fix houses, you don’t know how to do anything". Paulette and her eight-year-old daughter Linda are at breaking point, but this argument actually masks a far deeper form of distress brought about by the sudden death of Linda’s father seven years earlier. Once they’ve got to the bottom of the misunderstanding behind the fight, Paulette wants to make it up to her daughter and to satisfy one of her desires: eating chicken with peppers. Without the little girl realising it, this meal is akin to "Proust’s madeleine" for her, stirring up a fleeting memory of her dad who emerges from the limbo of her earliest childhood. And for her mother, it becomes a mission to accomplish at all costs. There’s just one humungous problem: all the shops are closed on account of a general strike. Where can Paulette find a chicken? What follows is an incredible 200-miles-per-hour whirlwind of adventures which sees us crossing paths with Aunt Astrid, Linda’s best friends, baby Pablo, dog Zorro, cat Gaza, an ill-equipped yet highly tenacious police force, a chauffeur who recites Ronsard ("I wish I could die for your beauty, mistress") and the multitude of children who live on the estate…
"You can’t put a price on freedom." Chicken for Linda! sees Chiara Malta and Sébastien Laudenbach offering up a dizzying, playful, joyous and moving film. A wave of optimistic revolt against the constraints of the established order sweeps everything up in its path in this incredibly dynamic tale, set amidst gentle and suggestive graphics. It’s a very well-composed feature film which gives childhood its proper place as the creator of healthy disorder, because, as per the song at the end of the film, "paradise is where you live, where you grow up, where you laugh, for all those lucky enough to be called your friends."
Chicken for Linda! is produced by Dolce Vita Films and Miyu Productions, in co-production with Palosanto Films. The movie will be distributed in France on 18 October, courtesy of Gébéka Films, with international sales steered by Charades.
(Translated from French)
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