Published on June 26th, 2015 | by Allan Brown0
EIFF 2015: Chicken Review
Movie Review: Chicken (2015)
Running Time: 86 mins
Director: Joe A. Stephenson
Writer: Freddie Machin, Chris New
Cast: Scott Chambers, Yasmin Paige, Morgan Watkins
In a battered caravan sited on patch of unused farmland in an English countryside, resides fifteen year old Richard (Scott Chambers). Fuelled with bright eyed optimism and childlike innocence, Richard fills his days rambling in the countryside whilst tending to his best friend Fiona – a chicken.
Despite having learning difficulties, few real friends, and wholly dependent on his abusive and selfish older Brother Polly, Richard’s outlook on life is positive.
However, when financial difficulties begin to arise and a family of new land owner’s move in, a chain of events begin to unfold that will change both their lives forever.
Detrimental to the film’s success is the way its themes are handled. Some of the elements are light and airy whilst others are dark and foreboding. These tonal shifts naturally create an interesting and powerful contrast, and Stephenson utilizes them to devastating effect.
Yasmin Paige (Submarine, The Double) offers another rich performance, this time as Annabelle. Her scenes with Chambers are fun, delightful and often touching. Morgan Watkins (Kingsman: The Secret Service) also makes a notable presence as Polly – Richard’s resentful and abusive brother. However, it is the captivating central performance from young Scott Chambers’ that anchors the film with a genuine warmth and sincerity. Even in his quieter moments free from dialogue, Chambers fills the screen with a quiet tenderness, bringing true authenticity to the role.
Despite its British kitchen-sink drama tag, Eben Bolter’s (Greyhawk) cinematography transcends the dreek and grey tone often associated with the genre, into something quite exquisite. Taking full advantage of its stunning countryside location, Stephenson and Bolter frame the bright colours of spring to offset against the darker elements of the narrative. These subtle touches are wonderfully effective and show a real skill and confidence behind the camera.
There are the occasional performance wobbles and some scenes that don’t quite hit the mark intended, but these are minor quibbles in what is otherwise an incredibly moving début.
Summary: Astutely composed from a promising new director and a captivating central performance, ensures Chicken to be one of the golden egg's at this years Edinburgh International Film Festival.