Wednesday, May 1, 2013
CHICKEN WITH PLUMS
Unrequited love is painful and can turn a heart to stone, though life goes on. It can also have inspirational, as well as tragic, aspects. Such is the case in the French-Iranian film collaboration Chicken with Plums (2011), directed by Marjane Satrapi (of Persepolis fame) and Vincent Paronnaud. The movie features an international cast, headed by Mathieu Amalric, who plays Nasser-Ali Khan, a broken-hearted Iranian violin player who parlayed a failed relationship into world-renowned ability on a special instrument given to him by his mentor, but who is also a lousy husband and father. The object of his affection is the stunningly beautiful Irân, played by Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani (who is every bit as lovely as French actress Virginie Ledoyen, one of my faves). Khan's long-suffering, and somewhat shrewish wife is played by Portuguese actress Maria de Medeiros (who at 48 is still beautiful). Long-time Italian beauty Isabella Rossellini has a small role. Edouard Baer is wonderful and creepy as the dark angel Azrael. All of the actors, from the youngest on up, were wonderful and represented a United Nations of acting, including Armenia, Spain, Chile, Germany, and others. The movie is darkly humorous, following the last days of Khan's life as he gives up, but recalls the path that brings him to his demise. There are some really funny parts, one of my favorite of which is when a sinister shopowner trying to sell a violin to Khan offers a dab of the poppy to settle his overactive child (hinted at), and the next day when Khan delivers the son to his grandmother, the tyke looks up and asks her, "Do you have any opium?" The filmmakers combined effectively some animation and puppetry into the live action, and there is lovely photography and scenes. The movie won praise at last year's Tribeca and is definitely worth checking out. Although the movie is in French, it seems to me it would have been a tad better had it been done in Farsi.