The directors of Persepolis (2007) bring their French and Iranian backgrounds together once again for Chicken with Plums (Poulet aux Prunes), the story of a man who decides to kill himself after his precious violin is broken.
Nasser-Ali (Mathieu Amalric), a passionate violinist, becomes suicidal when his violin is smashed during an argument with his wife (Maria de Medeiros: Bruce Willis’s girlfriend in Pulp Fiction ’94– I knew I recognised her!). The film is an exploration of why the violin was so special to him; the loss of a great love, and a countdown of the 8 days before his death showing his gradual deterioration.
The film integrates animation and has a strong comic art influence in the shot construction, choreography and cinematography (Vincent Paronnaud is a comic artist). There were comic interludes, puppets and animation features throughout, creating a very stylised theatrical drama. Pieces of the film reminded me of children’s books but others had a grown-up noir style.
The script was funny and charming and brought to mind Amelie, mostly because Jamel Debbouze acted in the film as the crazy opium-smoking owner of a wonder emporium/junk shop. I also appreciated the sense of Iran that was created, although I believed it to be a little romanticised.
Mathieu Amalric impressed, and made me remember how much I still want to see Wild Grass and On Tour. Last I saw of him was in Quantum of Solace ’08 (disgraceful as a Bond film) andMesrine ’08 (stunning, think I preferred K.I over P.E no 1).
However, although the acting was good, I felt removed from the action due to the style, and found it difficult to engage with the film. It is a strong film, and deserves recognition for design, but the story didn’t resonate with me and I felt it failed to make an impact.
In theatres October 26th.