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Chicken for Linda (2024) Review

Screening at Cannes last year before making its way to French theaters, Chiara Malta and Sébastien Laudenbach’s charmingly animated love letter to revolution, familial love and life itself is now available in the US. It follows Paulette’s journey to gather ingredients and cook her daughter a recipe that serves as the only lasting memory Linda has of her father. Things get complicated due to a general strike closing all stores in their area, and mayhem ensues. As things quickly spiral out of control, what we’re left with is a tender wandering through the heart’s chambers, exploring what it means to love, remember and heal. Having a limited theatrical release last week, and hopefully expanding farther soon, don’t be surprised to see this on my Best Of list in December.

If the stills used here don’t make it obvious, this movie looks incredible. The art style is so expressive, carrying a sentimentality that befits plots centered around the travails of childhood. There’s a bold use of color and shape that feels singular; in an age where movies tend to accost the viewer with a barrage of needlessly flashy stylistic choices, the simplicity of this film stands out as being particularly evocative, allowing our imagination to fill in the blanks, creating a more intimate and engaging viewing experience. The expressionism also helps track changes in character, like when colors expand beyond characters’ outlines when they’re excited. Despite the open style of the film, viewers are strongly grounded in the score which never dominates or tries to steer emotional reactions. In a scene when Linda’s about to lose the crucial chicken, all it takes is a soft, barely-there synth to absolutely crush you thanks to how well the characters are written.

With a 76-min runtime, this isn’t exactly a movie that moves slowly. Despite that, it takes its time with characters’ relationships, letting viewers see how they all interact, how much each means to the other. Moments where Linda visits the store with her friends or when Paulette begs her sister to babysit for the night do a lot to add stakes and a sense of warmth throughout. Because of this, we start to become invested in these people, wanting them to succeed in their quest for a simple pleasure and their fight for higher wages. It’s hard enough to make audiences feel so close to a group of characters; it’s especially hard to do so for well over 6 characters in less than an hour and a half. To jam-pack so much feeling in a runtime this quick speaks to the writing's efficiency as well as the imagery's strength, which is needed for a movie this expansive. For a film with so much death and struggle at its core, this is really all about life: how it’s a gift to struggle for a better world, to remember those we’ve lost and to appreciate those still here. It’d be a real treat to see this in theaters; find it in your city here!

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