Latest Posts


(Check out Chris Reed’s Chicken for Linda! movie review. Seen it? Join the conversation with HtN on our Letterboxd Page.)

Despite the many comic shenanigans on display, the recurring subtext of the animated French film Chicken for Linda! (or “Linda veut du poulet” in the original) is grief. With its focus on the misadventures of a widowed mother and her daughter as they search for the titular fowl, the movie nevertheless returns several times to the missing dad (even granting him a jaunty song), raising the emotional stakes beyond the fun of it all. As a topper, the hand-drawn images are exquisite. Directors Sébastien Laudenbach (The Girl Without Hands) and Chiara Malta (Simple Women) have prepared quite a cinematic feast.

After a sad prologue where we see father Giulio (Pietro Sermonti, Run to You) die during dinner, to the horror of wife Paulette (Clotilde Hesme, The Shift)—though baby Linda remains oblivious to what is happening—we cut to the present, with Linda (Mélinée Leclerc) now a young girl. As is the wont of children, she gets on her mother’s bad side over a missing ring, which Paulette wrongly accuses her of stealing. It’s all a misunderstanding, thanks to the family cat.

But Paulette feels guilty, and so promises Linda whatever she wants, and what that happens to be is chicken with peppers, the dish that Giulio loved to prepare. But there happens to be a general strike that day (this is France, after all), and all stores are closed. What’s a mother to do? Why, steal a chicken from a farm, of course!

As one might imagine, this action has consequences, including a manic chase through protest marches, a journey in the back of a fruit truck, an attempted arrest by a hapless police officer (Estéban, Swing Rendez-vous), pursuit by an angry aunt (Laetitia Dosch, Irréductible), and the constant escape of our chicken (animal lovers beware, the dish does get made by the end). En route to the zany finale lies an improbable romance (or two), a conflagration of peppers, and a vast game of soccer featuring watermelons. That’s a lot of content for a 73-minute movie.

And most of it is a delight, courtesy of the animation and the songs. The colors are vivid and the music engaging. In the grand tradition of such classic French films as François Truffaut’s 1959 The 400 Blows and Yves Roberts’ 1962 War of the Buttons and more modern animated fables like Michel Ocelot and Raymond Burlet’s 1998 Kirikou and the Sorceress, the emphasis here is often squarely on the children and their momentary hopes and dreams. The adults here also play a major part in the narrative, theirs and the kids’ sets of goals converging and diverging in joyful mayhem.

In the end, love and harmony triumph (unless you’re the poor chicken). Linda is able to reconcile memories of the past with the present and let go of unresolved trauma. And everyone enjoys a tasty meal. Bon appétit.

– Christopher Llewellyn Reed (@ChrisReedFilm)

GKIDS; Chicken for Linda!, Chiara Malta, Sébastien Laudenbach

Liked it? Take a second to support Hammer to Nail on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!

Christopher Llewellyn Reed is a film critic, filmmaker, and educator. A member of both the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA) and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic, he is: lead film critic at Hammer to Nail; editor at Film Festival Today; formerly the host of the award-winning Reel Talk with Christopher Llewellyn Reed, from Dragon Digital Media; and the author of Film Editing: Theory and Practice. In addition, he is one of the founders and former cohosts of The Fog of Truth, a podcast devoted to documentary cinema.

Post a Comment

Website branding logosWebsite branding logos