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Movie review: 'Chicken with Plums'

The story's sour central character keeps “Chicken with Plums” from becoming satisfying.
by Brandy McDonnell Published: November 2, 2012

The story may be as old as art itself, but Satrapi and Paronnaud deserve kudos for imparting it in a wholly original and unpredictable way. “Chicken with Plums” fuses a variety of distinctive cinematic styles, a hefty measure of magical realism, a dash of German Expressionism and a pinch of French New Wave. A gorgeously animated fable-within-the-fable is a particularly tantalizing highlight, but the movie veritably overflows with lush, dreamlike visuals, richly enhanced by Olivier Bernet's score.

Still, the filmmakers get too clever for their own good, ignoring a basic tenet of storytelling: If you don't care about your characters, no one else will. Nasser-Ali isn't just unpleasant, he's a bore with his constant whining and unceasing self-absorption. The nonlinear narrative doesn't give us many reasons to understand, sympathize or even tolerate him until moments before the credits roll, and even then, viewers may still have the overwhelming desire to smack the character and tell him to get over himself.

Worse, the auteurs take one of the most likable characters — Nasser-Ali's sweet-natured, perpetually happy but neglected son — and condemn him to a horrible fate in a mean-spirited flash-forward that casts him as a clueless father in a garish parody of American life.

With its beautiful blend of cinematic homages, film fans should sample “Chicken with Plums” but be prepared for the bitter aftertaste of watching a good film that should really be a great one.

— Brandy McDonnell

by Brandy McDonnell
Entertainment Reporter
Brandy McDonnell, also known by her initials BAM, writes stories and reviews on movies, music, the arts and other aspects of entertainment. She is NewsOK’s top blogger: Her 4-year-old entertainment news blog, BAM’s Blog, has notched more than 1...
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MOVIE REVIEW

‘Chicken with Plums'

PG-131:332 1/2 stars

Starring: Mathieu Amalric, Maria de Medeiros, Golshifteh Farahani, Isabella Rossellini. (Some drug content, violent images, sensuality and smoking)

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