Chicken for Linda! Image

Chicken for Linda!

By Sumner Forbes | April 19, 2024

Sometimes, children are inconsolable. They want what they want, and there’s nothing that can calm them down until they get it. As exhausted parents, it behooves us to make it happen for the sake of our own well-being and the people around us. Chicken for Linda!, a French animated feature straight from Cannes 2023, is a heartwarming film that examines the bonds between parents and children in the wake of heartbreak told through the seemingly impossible pursuit of a delicious chicken dinner.

Of course, this isn’t just any chicken dinner. Linda, the precocious child at the heart of the picture (voiced by Mélinée Leclerc), wants a chicken dinner like the one her recently deceased father used to make. Her exhausted mom Paulette (Clotilde Hesme) is struggling to meet Linda’s expectations after her husband’s death. Still, after a series of arguments about a missing ring, she figures this will be the key to improving their relationship. Getting said chicken in the midst of an intense labor strike in France will be no easy task, though, and hijinks involving Paulette’s angry sister Astrid (Laetitia Dosch), a local policeman, and eventually nearly every resident of the local tenement building interfere with what should be a simple meal.

“Impossible pursuit of a delicious chicken dinner…”

The animation in Chicken for Linda! is simple yet refined, with the use of pastel colors giving the picture a distinctive, hand-drawn aesthetic in contrast to more complex animated films that use either a hybrid between the two or straight computer-generated images. The detail doesn’t blow one away like in a Pixar film. Still, the refined style at play here brings a sense of whimsy to the viewer, adding to the overall poignancy of the experience, and that’s what we’re ultimately looking for in a film like this: humor, emotion, and a unique visual feel.

None of that would matter if the story and characters weren’t so appealing. It’s a silly narrative filled with improbable occurrences, but many would argue that’s how parenthood feels when the going gets tough. The picture also works as an effective reminder of how important community is in the child-rearing process. Writer/Directors Sébastien Laudenbach and Chiara Malta make important use of the communal feel of the French tenement building. Filled with diverse, working-class families that all know each other, they remind us that it does indeed take a village to make this chicken dinner happen for Linda.

Many of us forget how powerful animated films can be as we age and spend more time watching live-action. The ones like Chicken for Linda! work on levels that both kids and adults can enjoy, and that’s the mark of their overall appeal and lasting quality. Kids will get a kick out of it (provided they’re old enough to read subtitles), and adults (parents, especially) will embrace the detail that goes into portraying the complexities of parenthood that are often glossed over by many. Now, if you will excuse me, I’m going to make some poulet au poivre.

Chicken for Linda! (2023)

Directed and Written: Sébastien Laudenbach, Chiara Malta

Starring: Mélinée Leclerc, Clotilde Hesme, Laetitia Dosch, etc.

Movie score: 8.5/10

Chicken for Linda! Image

"…works on levels that both kids and adults can enjoy..."

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