CHICKEN FOR LINDA! Review: Food As a Springboard to Delight

Directed by Chiara Malta and Sébastien Laudenbach, the animated film from France happily defies expectations.

Managing Editor; Dallas, Texas, US (@peteramartin)
CHICKEN FOR LINDA! Review: Food As a Springboard to Delight

How far are you willing to go for your favorite meal?

Chicken for Linda! (orig. Linda veut du poulet!)
The film opens Friday, April 5, in select U.S. movie theaters nationwide via GKids. Visit the official site for more information.

The theatrical marketplace in the U.S. for animated films mostly sticks to a few major studios -- Disney, Pixar, Illumination -- with a few others sneaking in from around the world. Most are 3D animated adventures that are quite expensive to produce and consequently rely upon reaching broad audiences that are family friendly.

Occasionally, though, European productions sneak through, invariably displaying a strong dose of individuality that speaks to their independence from the majority view. Such is the case with Chicken for Linda!, a film whose original French-language title, Linda veut du poulet!, or, Linda wants chicken! more accurately conveys the titular character's desperate desire to eat some chicken.

Even that undervalues the film, though it's an easy 'sell point' and makes it easy to understand at a glance. Yes, young Linda (voiced by Mélinée Leclerc) wants chicken, in the sense that 'chicken and peppers' is a favorite dish, rarely served by her mother Paulette (Clotilde Hesme), and Linda wants to eat it badly and now now NOW!, in the demanding way that children declare that they simply MUST have the thing that they crave IMMEDIATELY.

Written and directed by the marvelously gifted Chiara Malta and Sébastien Laudenbach, the chicken becomes far more than a chicken. In its opening moments, the film declares its fascination with memories, and then fleshes out its theme through beguiling characters who are recognizably human in their wants and needs.

Linda and Paulette live in Paris in a modest apartment; both miss a man whose absence hovers over them, for reasons that are not immediately made apparent. Theirs is a close and loving relationship, but Linda is displaying an increasing desire for independence and Paulette is simultaneously being pulled in multiple directions; their bond is showing signs of fraying.

A misunderstanding by Paulette leads to further friction between them. To make up for it, Paulette promises to make the fabled 'chicken with peppers,' only to be foiled by an all-too-common strike called throughout the city, which leads her to increasingly desperate measures in order to make good on her word.

Filmmakers Malta and Laudenbach play upon the familiar Remembrance of Things Past device -- in this case, a chicken -- to serve as a means to further explore the varying memories of Linda and Paulette, as well as how they relate to their community, and how the community relates to them. The neighborhood, and the wildly different people they encounter in it or outside it, are quickly sown into a tapestry that steadily expands into a canvas that is ever more absorbing.

Somehow, in a scant 73 minutes, Malta and Laudenbach weave together bubbly comedy, family drama, social critiques, law enforcement commentary, clever sight gags, lovable animals, and several songs, all playing out in an unpolished yet endearing landscape of hand-drawn animation and memorable characters. It's all quite marvelous to behold and incredibly infectious (in a good, healthy manner).

Chicken for Linda!

  • Sébastien Laudenbach
  • Chiara Malta
  • Chiara Malta
  • Sébastien Laudenbach
  • Mélinée Leclerc
  • Clotilde Hesme
  • Laetitia Dosch
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Chiara MaltaGKidsSébastien LaudenbachMélinée LeclercClotilde HesmeLaetitia DoschAnimationComedyMusical

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