Starring: Mathieu Amalric, Maria de Medeiros, Golshifteh Farahani
Directed by: Vincent Paronnaud (“Persepolis”) and Marjane Satrapi (“Persepolis”)
Written by: Vincent Paronnaud (“Persepolis”) and Marjane Satrapi (“Persepolis ”)
Nasser-Ali’s (Mathieu Amalric) entire existence is dedicated to his music. So, when his beloved violin is damaged beyond repair, he decides he no longer wants to live. In fact, he welcomes death to his door as quickly as possible. In the French drama “Chicken with Plums,” directors Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi, both of whom delivered the wonderful 2007 Oscar-nominated animated film “Persepolis,” share a heartbreaking tale of a man whose regrets in life lead up to the destruction of his stringed instrument.
Not only is Nasser a great violin player, he is revered as one of the best violinists of his generation. When he realizes “no violin would ever again give him the pleasure of playing,” he burrows himself in bed for eight days and wishes death to be swift and uncompromising. His frustrated wife Faringuisse (Maria de Medeiros) and their two children look on helplessly. As Nasser sinks into a deeper depression, thoughts about his children’s future without a father come racing into his mind and bring with them more reason for disappointment. He also revisit the time spend with Irâne (Goldshifteh Farahani), the love of his life who slips away from him but is never forgotten.
With stylish art direction and well-written narration, one can compare “Chicken” to another French film, Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s fancy-free 2001 film “Amélie.” While the film doesn’t reach those levels of delight, it’s still the kind of French fairy-tale that contains a nice combination of sweetness and sadness. It’s a film about one’s passion for art and music and how people are moved when they find true love. When Nassar loses that, it’s not something he can easily accept. If it wasn’t for the touches of genuinely dark humor Paronnaud and Satrapi add to the script, “Chicken with Plums” would be joyless. Instead, we’re given a film with a protagonist who is easy to root for despite his gloomy nature.