(Chicken, 2016 – B Good Picture Company)
It’s a rare pleasure to walk into a cinema and not know anything about what you’re about to experience. I seldom manage to avoid trailers, plot lines nor manage to ignore my curious mind that longs to know every inch of material available. Chicken allowed me this, I knew nothing more than what the poster told me, a adolescent boy and a caravan. I’ve come out emotionally drained yet better for the experience.
What strikes me initially about Chicken is its clever handling of really harsh and difficult topics. Representation is important, though films that attempt to represent minorities seem to often draw in high scrutiny. It’s vital to be truthful, honest and do justice to people’s lives. It’s something that this film does seemingly with ease, especially through Scott Chambers’ flawless characterisation. Even better that the film doesn’t dwell on the matter of the character’s learning difficulties, it’s only one level of his complex character. It’s the relationship with his brother (Morgan Watkins) and his budding friendship with Yasmine Page’s Annabel that is the crux of the story.
This is what is frustrating about the majority of minority representation in cinema and television, they define the character by their sexuality, race etc. While films like Milk are great and food for thought, the best instances of representation in my book are non-tokening. Luckily this seems to be getting better as companies take more responsibility in what they produce. This is the main feeling i’ve come away with after seeing Chicken. It’s fantastic because the characters are so complexly human. The villain of the piece isn’t mindless, he has emotional depth that is quite shockingly revealed in the third act, through this moment he is humanised. Even Annabel has a clear arch in character, rather than just as a tool to forward narrative. It’s one of my favourite things about this type of independent British film; small story, enclosed world yet a cinematic scale. Having a small cast in a feature gives you time to really understand each character, it gives actors time to portray every inch of that characters’ soul. Chicken isn’t emotionally shy, it relentlessly punches in the third act after a somewhat easy going beginning, although it does this without saying too much. Every moment is thoughtfully placed by director Joe Stephenson. Each hit is perfectly necessary and equally hard hitting. Less is more.