Chicken For Linda!


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Chicken For Linda!
"The vibrancy of childhood skips from the screen."

The vibrancy of childhood skips from the screen in Chicken For Linda! It’s there in the excitement of the title’s exclamation mark and in its candy hues, with each character represented by a single colour. It’s also present in the animation which is built around movement rather than photorealistic detail, a child’s squirm here, a shrug there. Glowing out from the rest, especially in the film’s early scenes, is Linda’s mum’s ring - an object that Linda is constantly trying to borrow but which holds great sentimental value to her mum Paulette since her husband’s death.

That death of Linda’s dad provides a sort of framing device for this film, which although largely a farcical adventure woven through with a mum and daughter relationship, also lightly touches on issues of grief. For the most part, however, it’s life that takes centre-stage. Linda is depicted in sunny-side up yellow and, along with a mob of youngsters on the high-rise housing estate where she lives, is usually running about getting up to mischief.

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But when her mum makes a false accusation - and offers her anything as a way of making it up to her, Linda has an unusual request, a meal of chicken with peppers. Paulette’s usual idea of cooking is bunging things in a microwave so Chiara Malta and Sébastien Laudenbach soon have them off on a wild chicken chase that will also sweep Paulette’s sister Ingrid and hapless police officer Serge up the madness.

The writer/directors employ a lot of cumulative humour, so that all the family are able to see where a joke is going before it gets there in ways that make the punchlines more amusing. There are one or two musical interludes in which characters reveal their inner thoughts that stray towards the saccharine but by and large this is a film that keeps its emotions and its action grounded.

Malta and Laudenbach slip effortlessly into a child’s eye viewpoint of the world, where the options for killing a chicken hold a delicious horror that makes parents wince. It’s also a world where friendship is shown to be important, even if it might end up having unintended comic complications. Beyond the story, which speeds faster than Serge’s bicycle, the animation is constantly inventive. Night scenes are still colourful thanks to the strokes used to draw the characters and their impressionistic nature plays into the ideas of memory that the start of the film evokes. This may not be photorealistic but the way, for example, street and car lights cast light and shadow on the occupants of a car is perfectly rendered.

The film’s deeper themes don’t fully land, being simultaneusly, a bit too heavy for the youngsters who will enjoy this film most while rather simplistically rendered for adults - but the high-energy, take-no-prisoners approach is engaging, no matter what age you are.

Reviewed on: 24 May 2023
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When a mum makes a promise to her daughter after unfairly punishing her, she finds herself having to go the extra mile to make it come true.

Director: Chiara Malta, Sebastien Laudenbach

Writer: Chiara Malta, Sebastien Laudenbach

Starring: Voiced by, Laetitia Dosch, Clotilde Hesme, Estéban

Year: 2023

Runtime: 73 minutes

Country: France

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