Chicken With Plums

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +4

Content: +2

Mathieu Amalric, Edouard Baer, Maria de Medeiros, Golhifteh Farahani. Drama from France with subtitles. Written and directed by Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Since his beloved violin was broken, Nasser Ali Khan, one of the most renowned musicians of his day, has lost all taste for life. Finding no instrument worthy of replacing it, the self-centered musician forsakes his wife and kids, deciding to confine himself to bed to await death.

PREVIEW REVIEW: I like a happy ending, or at least one that uplifts the spirit. Chicken With Plums doesn’t have one. It is, nonetheless, a work of art. From its renaissance-hued lighting to its wonderful performances and the opening evocative blocky cartoon imagery, it is filmmaking/storytelling in the vein of Merchant/Ivory, who gave us Remains of the Day, Howard’s End, Remains of the Day and A Room With a View. As with these films, we connect with Chicken’s characters, as they are so human, usually having to deal with the tragedy of a missed opportunity.

Filmmakers Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi collaborated, as they did with Persepolis, another film filled with poignancy and purpose. There is a melancholic ending, but ultimately this viewer was uplifted by the fact that filmmakers who can tell a story still exist. There are indeed moviemakers still interested in revealing mature emotions.

That said, you may find the following more spiritually rewarding:

DVD Alternatives: Sense and Sensibility. An engrossing screenplay by the film's star, Emma Thompson, from the Jane Austen romance novel about two sisters discovering the joys and tribulations of young love. Set in prim and proper 18th-century England, the beautifully photographed and splendidly acted melodrama is full of humor, wit, and passion.

The Emperor’s Club. Kevin Kline stars as Arthur Hundert, a dedicated and inspiring professor, much like Mr. Chips and Mr. Holland. However, when a new student, the headstrong son of a powerful senator, joins his class, Mr. Hundert’s life is inexorably altered. Hundert sees real potential in the boy, but when the lad ultimately stays the course of moral apathy, it’s the teacher who feels he has failed. Boatwright’s most personally revealing review:

Together. Chinese film (with subtitles) about a talented Chinese violinist from a provincial town who ventures to Beijing to further his opportunities. As with most stories about overcoming obstacles, the lad has a few hurdles facing him, but the main one is not realizing the power of love. Sometimes we are so close to something that we can’t see it. The young protagonist can’t see the sacrifices made on his behalf. This is one of my favorite foreign films. Full review:

Babette’s Feast. Based on a short story by Isak Dinessen, this 1987 Best Foreign film Oscar winner is a beautiful tale of devotion and sacrifice, as well as a healing parable where quarreling friends and acquaintances are brought together once they shed their pious austerity. The film urges us to put our faith into action.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Celluloid Dreams

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: None

Obscene Language: Four uses of the s-word; a few minor expletives.

Profanity: None

Violence: Visuals of a person contemplating ways of committing suicide.

Sex: None

Nudity: Brief backside of a nude man.

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: A man goes to the Orient and while there he smokes opium.

Other: None

Running Time: 93 minutes
Intended Audience: Mature viewers

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