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Having enjoyed Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis, both as a graphic novel and a film, the lack of any buzz for her new film (also adopted from one of her graphic novels) had lowered my expectations for Chicken with Plums. Whilst Persepolis was a highly original piece of work, Chicken with Plums surpasses it in every way and is truly a great work of art. It is therefore fitting that it is a movie about art and artists. The simple tale of a musician whose only passion in a loveless marriage is searching for the perfect violin, is beautifully realized by Satrapi, her co-director and crew, and a sublime cast. A scene where the protagonist, near the end of his life, comes across his only true love, whose father had rejected his proposal to marry his daughter many years ago, is an unforgettable piece of cinema. I saw this at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival where it walked away with the Best Film prize, which it fully deserved.
Back in June, I was almost certain after watching The Tree of Life, it
was locked in for my #1 movie of the year. I was contemplating throwing
it into my top 10 of all time, then top 20, then it ended up somewhere
in my 80s or 90s. I saw it a second time and felt just as strong about
it. There was no way anything was touching it from its rightful spot
this year. Until I saw this at TIFF in September.
This is pure french cinema, mixed in with a unique and wonderful vision that brings a fairy tale to life. The story is miraculous, the cinematography is beautiful to look at, the acting is superb, the editing and all the techs are sublime. There's really nothing bad about this film, at all. It's pure entertainment. A wonderful translation from word to screen.
After having seen Persepolis, I wasn't fully aware of just how talented Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi (who's become one of my favourite female directors) are. Their ability to suck the viewer in and take them on a brilliant ride of magic and surrealism, while at the same time presenting a very powerful social and political commentary, has been more than affirmed in this film.
Each frame is so carefully crafted that you literally forget you're watching a film. It's an experience like no other, and I cannot wait to be able to see this wonderful gem again.
A live action film from the directors of Persepolis. Like Persepolis, it's based on a graphic novel written by Marjane Satrapi. It's nice to see that Satrapi and Paronnaud have some cinematic legs. This is wonderful. Very, very sad, but also utterly gorgeous. Mathieu Amalric stars as an Iranian violinist who gets in an argument with his wife (Pulp Fiction's Maria de Madeiros), who then breaks his prized violin. Unhappy with his life, Amalric decides to die and retreats to his bed. Over the next seven days, his life story plays out before his eyes. The exquisite visuals will certainly impress viewers, but it seems like the depth of the story gets lost on many. It is, simply, a story about the missed opportunities in life and how they haunt us. The beauty of the visuals gives it a kind of magic, but, in the end, this is a very tragic story that will resonate with many.
This is a brilliant film composed of wit, romance and all the art and style that makes film enjoyable. With set pieces, animation and fabulous actors the directors have created a unique and memorable fable. The visuals are magical and some satirical, all dressed in a vision of charm and enveloped with the romance of music. Romance and Art are at the core of this film, it speaks of the soul of an artist and true love. Set in old Terhran the story is told with culture and warmth. It is an inspiration laced with humor, charm, beauty and at last love. This tale is universal and will touch more than one heart. "Chicken with Plums" is the best I've seen this year and a must see if you love film.
lovely. melancholic. delicate. impressive. touch of powerful emotions and a common case who can remember the characters of Italo Svevo or Tchekov. a film about a different image of hero. shadows of solitude, gray existence, search of death, old love story. and a brilliant Mathieu Amalric.the cast is only a side of this gorgeous movie. its secret - gentle circles of Iranian reality as song of a violin. a transformation of reality and pure genius of director. splendid images. moving story. and flavor of old spaces of passion. story of a hero. a hero of every time. like sign. of a human isle in middle of society ocean.
Nasser Ali Khan (Mathieu Amalric) is a famous Iranian violinist; whose
life takes a dark turn after his violin is destroyed. Unable to find a
suitable substitute for his invaluable instrument Nasser Ali decides
there's only one thing left to do: Die. After considering different
methods to end his own life, he decides that waiting for death to come
to him is the one that makes most sense. In the eight days preceding
his earthly departure Nasser Ali reflects upon his life, his art and
the love of his life. In what seems like a series of fever dreams the
filmmakers progressively let the viewer in on Nasser Ali's mind and
Whimsical, sweet and romantic Poulet aux prunes is a thoughtfully composed film, with a lot of heart and a typically French sense of humor. As these kinds of films go it is more interested in the little character quirks and moments they share with each other, rather than big action or plot. The charming screenplay and great command in the directing department make this film a mature effort, that reveres and references foreign fare: Namely Italian cinema and the beautiful Sofia Loren. The film is sustained by strong performances by all of its lead actors. For a film about a musician the score of Chicken with Plums is great towards the end and climax of the story, but in one instance it felt they were imitating Steve Jablonsky's My Name is Lincoln. Story-wise I think the ending is a bit abrupt and somewhat unresolved. The pieces of the story all come together nicely, but you can't help feeling that something's missing.
Personally, I'm someone that values visually compelling films Chicken with Plums and would say Christophe Beaucarne's (DP on Mr. Nobody and Michel Gondry's upcoming Mood Indigo) cinematography definitely stands out; same goes for the art direction. It's especially fascinating how the filmmakers integrate animation and different filming techniques to craft over-stylized, almost exaggerated scenery. The almost "artificial" mise en scène is appropriate for the big emotions and 'larger than life' characters portrayed. Speaking of visions, I have to mention the heartbreakingly beautiful Golshifteh Farahani. I wish the story would revolve more around her character and the love story, because to me it is the most interesting part of the film.
Moviegoers that don't mind subtitles and enjoy romantic films like Amélie (2001), Big Fish (2003) and The Fall (2006) will certainly appreciate this one.
Other reviews cause me to cry out in protest as I found "Chicken with
Plums" captivating in a way few films have touched me. I would urge
anyone reading these words to seek it out for themselves (I found it on
"starz" and hope they will continue to show it).
The storytelling is tantalizingly deliberate; one might even say that the early sequences are almost misleading their matter-of-fact tone. But the artistic team - and a martini-dry performance by Mathieu Amalric as our harried hero - continue unwrapping the narrative in a startlingly casual fashion, the tale becomes richer and more daring with every turn.
Persian tales begin, "There was someone, there was no one." See for yourself whether you find Nasser Ali someone to remember in this artful Persian story.
This is a quirky, interesting film. I found parts of it more
interesting than others, and some really quite beautiful. The sense of
humor takes some time to develop, but when it does, it's quite winning.
Those who are expecting another *Persepolis* will be disappointed; it
is really very different, quirkier, and more uneven. But it definitely
rewards attentive viewing.
One of the things I found interesting is that, unlike Persepolis, this movie really considers life from the perspective of a middle-aged man. Women here are either very objectified objects of sexual desire, or harpies. There are no intelligent women, such as one finds in *Persepolis.* That doesn't make the movie good or bad for me, but it was an interesting difference.
I loved Persepolis both as a graphic novel and as a film. So I was looking forward to Satrapi's new work. I had neither read the graphic novel nor much about the film before watching, which I now regret because this film has little or nothing to do with its predecessor. First of all, it is no animation film and Satrapi's beautiful artwork is limited to the opening titles and to a tale told by the Angel of Death towards the end of the film. The whole cast is French, they speak French and both look and behave like French and, except when it comes to the characters' names, one has to do a big effort to keep in mind that the story is supposed to take place in Teheran. It might be a meaningless detail to some, but for me it was a disturbing discrepancy. The whole film has a superb photography and every scene is carefully manufactured (i.e. manipulated in post-production) into something that indeed looks like a powerful work of art. But inside this nicely wrapped box, I find really little that makes this film worth watching. It's not a film for children: I wouldn't want to tell my children the story of a man who decides to let himself die showing total disrespect for both his wife and children. But as a grown-up, I am really missing something, that something that I did find in the autobiography of a little girl growing up away from a country which has ceased to exist. Chicken with plums is a sort of disturbing bedtime story about a man who lost the joy of living, carefully wrapped up in some sort of misty reverie, nothing more than that. Still, it is probably supposed to be a comedy, and that adds a little sugar to the pill that you'll have to swallow if you decide to watch this. I feel a big disappointment. Just like that plate of smoking-hot chicken with plums which is left untouched on the table by the protagonist.
Following up the massive success of their animated debut Persepolis,
directors Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi teamed up again for
another adaptation of one of Satrapi's graphic novels, this time making
a live-action confection out of the winsome fable Chicken with Plums.
Whereas Persepolis was an autobiographical affair for Satrapi, Plums is
the fictional story of Nasser Ali (Mathieu Amalric), a renowned
violinist whose heart is destroyed when his instrument is broken and he
can find no worthy replacement for it. Deciding that life is no longer
worth living without being able to perform, he confines himself to bed
and awaits the arrival of death to remove him from this world.
It's an interesting premise for sure, but my chief problem with Chicken with Plums is that the directors don't seem to know what to do once this is all established. Ali stays in his room for the entirety of the picture but as the story darts back and forth between flashbacks, fantasies and several different styles (including a particularly joyful animated sequence) it never really feels like it picks up any narrative momentum and I was never able to invest myself emotionally in Ali as a character. Amalric is one of my most favorite actors working today (or ever, frankly) and he provides a capable performance at the center, but half of the time the focus of the film isn't even on him and I felt like the directing team were lost within their own imagination.
By the time they bring it all back into focus with what felt as though should have been the key arc all along, we had spent so much time in other areas with other characters that I wasn't remotely engaged by the film any longer. For something with a relatively brief 93-minute running time it drags on through most of the middle section due to this and despite their hardest attempts to give it the kind of quirky energy of an ace director like Jean-Pierre Jeunet (much of the atmosphere feels practically cribbed from his work), the weakness of the narrative makes it too much of a struggle to pick up any steam.
That's not to say that Chicken with Plums is all bad, though. Despite the flaws in adapting the story to the screen, Paronnaud and Satrapi remain impressive visual artists and Plums is an absolute feast for the eyes. Whether it's the frame-worthy cinematography, the unique and constantly unpredictable film editing styles or the luscious production design, there is always something going on that can keep the eye entertained -- even if the heart and mind are not. Overall, this one definitely lands as a big disappointment for me but there's still enough pleasure in some elements of it for me to say that it may be worth watching for some out there.
Chicken with Plums is certainly a pleasure to look at, I just wish I had been connected to it remotely on any other level. Paronnaud and Satrapi certainly do have a knack for sumptuous visuals though, and I'd be interested in seeing what they could perhaps do with a script written by someone else. Hopefully we'll get the chance to see that one day.
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