Nasser-Ali Khanís (Mathieu Amalric) heart is broken. A revered musician, his wife Faringuisse (Maria de Medeiros) has smashed his treasured violin into unfixable pieces, no other instrument achieving the same sort of sound, the same emotional resonances, his was prone to. Even with his young children Lili (Enna Balland) and Cyrus (Mathis Bour) looking on, even with so much more to live for, Nasser Ali has decided it is time to die, crawling into to bed to await the arrival of AzraŽl (Edouard Baer), the Angel of Death, to do just that.
- This synopsis is culled from my 10/5/12 theatrical review
Hereís what I wrote about this one in my Theatrical Review:
ďChicken with Plums is an odd, heartfelt, eccentrically emotional little movie that never quite goes in the directions I kept assuming it would. Playing with past-present, life-death and space-time with irreverent playfulness, the movie is a tragic yet hopeful wonder speaking to power of the human spirit while at the same time commenting on human inability to see much further than the end of a nose. Directors Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi follow up the award-winning animated Persepolis with an equally dazzling, if not always successful, frolic through the mind of a man whoís maybe descended into madness, producing a surreal curiosity worthy of discovery in the process.
Yet, for all the weird imaginative whimsy, for all the heartfelt passion behind so much of it, all the same it is very hard to not feel like this sophomore effort for the duo is fairly depressing stuff much of the time. It isnít just that Nasser-Ali wants to die, itís the flash-forwards depicting the lives of his children and the flashbacks showcasing how his mother Parvine (Isabella Rossellini) helped slip him into a loveless marriage (on his part, decidedly not hers, increasing the tragedy exponentially because of that fact). It is the story of his one true love Ir‚ne (Golshifteh Farahani) and the forces keeping them apart, even potential reconciliation denied because of the fear that embracing desire might lead to familial damnation, a damnation that pretty much rears its ugly head anyhow.
Itís a little rough to take, and even with Baerís somewhat aloof yet jovial narration the fact so much pain and suffering is inflicted on all involved isnít entirely pleasing. At the same time, Paronnaud and Satrapi, working from the latterís graphic novel of the same name, manage to produce an essence of light, a sense of hope amidst the hopelessness, thatís bizarrely all-encompassing. The movie shifts gears and tones with remarkable frequency, meeting high with low and up with down at virtually every turn.
Visually, thereís been little else released this year that equals what Paronnaud and Satrapi have thrown upon the screen. Mixing animation with live actors, photorealistic computer effects with images of nature in all their naked glory, the movie is an aggressively ambitious affair that pushes the medium in fascinating ways. The film is an expressionistic marvel in most respects, Christophe Beaucarneís (Paris) sumptuous cinematography and Udo Kramerís (Young Goethe in Love) eye-popping production design particular standouts worthy of rapturous applause.
I do have trouble shaking my general unease at the ultimate destination Chicken with Plums finally finds itself at. The sadness of the moment is unshakable, and finding hope in the calamity is a bit difficult to do. Still, Paronnaud and Satrapi make the jump from animation to live-action with an easy confidence difficult to dismiss, while echoes of Bergman, Jeunet, Wilder, Lynch, Powell/Pressburger and most of all Lubitsch can be found throughout. The movie is sometimes mystifying, almost always emotionally captivating marvel in all the ways that matter, and as fantasies of life and death go this is one Iím going to be pondering for many months to come.Ē
Chicken with Plums deserves to be seen (and definitely deserved a Blu-ray release, shame on you Sony) as it is a good movie filled with original ideas, emotions and visuals that are engaging and thought-provoking. Iím still not entirely sold on the way it comes it its conclusion, but overall this is a highly enjoyable motion picture Iím happy to add to my own personal library.
Chicken with Plums is presented with a 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen transfer.
The DVD features French Dolby Digital 5.1 and includes optional English subtitles.
Extras include a solid, if rather sparse at times, Audio Commentary with directors Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud as well as a Q&A with the filmmakers conducted at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Chicken with Plums is a wonderfully inventive movie filled with original thoughts, images and ideas. It doesnít entirely work, but it is a lot of fun to watch and generates honest and true emotional reactions all the same. Extremely worthy of a watch, maybe more than one.