Thursday, May 3, 2012
Chicken with Plums (2011) Tribeca 2012 (Lots of SPOILERS)
Follow up to Persepolis from Marjane Satrapi is a film you're either going to love or hate. I didn't think it was all that great, but the woman sitting next to me was visibly shaken by the end of the film.
Forcibly bitter sweet film is fairy tale of sorts. Its the story of a violinist who, unable to play music to his satisfaction, takes to his bed and dies eight days later. the film then flashes back and tells us what transpired over the eight days, that happens to several characters after that time, and what happened in the years before that brought him to this unhappy conclusion.
A grand shaggy dog story of foiled romance this is a film that makes a great deal of effort for very little pay-off, at least in my opinion. The problem for me is three fold.
First and foremost Nassar Ali, our hero, is a self centered jerk. Sure we come to understand why he is at the end, bt to be quite honest even by the time the real start of events occur, he's a jerk and there is nothing anyone can do about it. Worse the structure of the film, which has him on his slow march to his doom before revealing his failed romance, has him abusing everyone for no good reason. He's a jerk and if you don't like him early on, the whole film is doomed.
Secondly this film has too many pieces in differing styles that it never pull things together. We have the flashback romance, the abuse of his wife (and yea its abuse), the animated segment, the meeting with the Angel of Death, the weird farting sequence, the mystical violin teacher, and several others, all if taken on their own work wonderfully, but connected to everything else fall flat. Yes, I laughed and smiled all through the film at the great sequences, but I was taking each sequence on it's own terms, and was never drawn into the central narrative.
Lastly after this long round about story of the eight days leading up to Nassar Ali's death, the film shifts gears to tell the magical story his romance with a girl name Iran, who he's not allowed to marry, and how like him has a miserable life as a result, and who refuses to recognize him when they are older, precipitating his slide to the grave. Weeeeee!
You'll either have bought into the film and be crying buckets like the young woman next to me, or you'll be like me wanting to scream "YOU MUST BE JOKING!" when the end credits roll.
I'm not going to suggest which your reaction is going to be but I can't suggest you run out to see this.
(By the way... I dare you to follow the internal time line of the film and not ponder what drugs the filmmakers were on. If I figured it right the characters ages are all screwed up. It can only work if some of the characters are very much younger than they should be...but then it isn't important and only a case of me over thinking out because I wasn't fully engaged in the film)