Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Chicken with Plums




Based on the graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi, Poulet aux prunes (Chicken with Plums) is the story about the final days of a violinist as he recalls his life and the love that he lost. Written for the screen and directed by Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Parronaud, the film is a look into the life of a musician whose passion for music has him being conflicted with the realities of his own life as he continually thinks about the woman he loved and lost. Starring Mathieu Almaric, Edouard Baer, Maria de Medeiros, Golshifteh Farahani, Eric Caravaca, Chiara Mastroianni, Jamel Debbouze, and Isabella Rossellini. Poulet aux prunes is a ravishing yet heartfelt film from Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Parronaud.

The film is this visually-imaginative tale about the life of Nasser Ali Khan (Mathieu Almaric) in the eight final days of his life as he is a man eager to find the right violin to replace the one his wife Faranguisse (Maria de Medeiros) had destroyed out of anger. After some trials and tribulations where he traveled all the way to find the right one, it becomes clear that his journey had been unfulfilling as he spends these last eight days wanting to die and thinking about his life. Notably as he thinks about the love of his life in Iran (Golshifteh Farahani) whom he had fallen in love with when he was a young man but circumstances kept them apart forcing him to channel his pain through his playing where they wouldn’t see each other for more than 20 years.

The screenplay by Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Parronaud takes Satrapi’s story about this man who is really her uncle as he had led a life that was quite adventurous but also troubled due to the heartbreak he endures as well as how his life turned out. Yet, the narrative isn’t told in a conventional manner as it sort of moves back-and-forth to those eight final days to the life that Nasser Ali had as a child to an adult. The material about Nasser Ali’s life is also told in an unconventional manner by showing parts of his life in a non-linear manner as it relates to his relationship with his mother (Isabella Rossellini) and his younger brother Abdi (Eric Caravaca). There’s also moments in the story where Nasser Ali thinks about his children when they become adults where his daughter Lili (Chiara Mastroianni) would endure her own troubles while his son Cyrus (Christian Friedel) conforms to the mediocre life in America. Though Nasser Ali wasn’t the perfect father, he was at least there for his kids as it would involve their more uptight mother.

The film’s direction is definitely full of imagination in the way they recreate 1958 Tehran and the years before that as it has a wonderful sense of style where a lot of its dramatic moments are straightforward but are filled with very mesmerizing shots. Some of the more stranger moments involves lots of bizarre visual effects and makeup work to play up the sense of fantasy that Nasser Ali had lived in as it includes moments of death and other strange sequences. Some of which involved animated sequences where it plays to the story about Azrael, the Angel of Death (Edouard Baer) during a meeting with Nasser Ali. There are also moments where reality clashes with surrealism in a scene where Nasser Ali meets a strange man about the ideas of death. It all plays into this journey of loss as the overall result is a fascinating yet enchanting tale in the life of a man by Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Parronaud.

Cinematographer Christopher Beaucarne does amazing work with the film‘s colorful photography from the look of 1958 Tehran with some of its lighting schemes to the more entrancing shading for some of the film’s interior scenes. Editor Stephane Roche does brilliant work with the editing in creating some montages to play up Nasser Ali‘s love life with Iran to some of the more comical moments involving the life of the adult Cyrus. Production designer Udo Kramer and set decorator Bernhard Henrich do fantastic work with the set pieces from the look of 1958 Tehran and some of the strange set pieces involving Nasser Ali’s life and his family.

Costume designer Madeline Fontaine does wonderful work with the period costumes from the suits that Nasser Ali wears to the colorful dresses of the women in Nasser Ali‘s life. Makeup supervisor Nathalie Tissier does terrific work with some of the makeup from the look of Azrael to the look of Iran in the years of her life. Visual effects supervisor Damien Stumpf does excellent work with some of the backdrops of Tehran of the times to some of the stranger moments to play up the idea of soul and faith. Sound designer Yves Renard and sound editor David Vranken do superb work with the sound to create some sound effects to the intimate moments involving his family. The film’s music by Olivier Bernet is exquisite for its mixture of classical music to more traditional Iranian music to play up the sense of melancholia in the film while music supervisor Elisse Luguren provides some of the classical pieces that Nasser Ali plays.

The casting by Anja Dihrberg does phenomenal work with the ensemble as it features appearances from Mathis Bour and Enna Balland in their respective roles as the young Cyrus and Lili, Julia Goldstern as the adult Cyrus’ wife, Chiara Mastroianni as the mysterious adult Lili, Christian Friedel as the dim-witted adult version of Cyrus, Serge Avedikian as Iran’s father, and Isabella Rossellini in a wonderful performance as Nasser Ali’s mother. Jamel Debbouze is excellent in a dual performance as an antiques dealer and a mysterious homeless man while Edouard Baer is terrific as the very chilling Azrael. Eric Caravaca is superb as Nasser Ali’s younger brother Abdi who always care for him while dealing with the decision he’s making in his life.

Maria de Medeiros is brilliant as Nasser Ali’s very proper but uptight wife Faranguisse as a woman who doesn’t understand what it’s like to be with an artist while being unaware of how much pain he has endured in his life. Golshifteh Farahani is fantastic as Iran as a woman who falls for Nasser Ali only to be forced to leave him as she would also endure the kind of pain of what she loses. Finally, there’s Mathieu Almaric in a remarkable performance as Nasser Ali Khan as a man who is a gifted violinist that is adored by everyone but hides the pain of his loss as he becomes more lost in his final days as he looks back as it’s one of Almaric’s finest performances.

Poulet aux prunes is a dazzling and imaginative film from Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Parronaud that features a brilliant performance from Mathieu Almaric. It’s a film that is filled with amazing images and a heartfelt story about the life of a musician that is told with an element of fantasy and drama. Especially as it carries something very personal as it is about Satrapi’s uncle. In the end, Poulet aux prunes is a sensational film from Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Parronaud.

Persepolis

© thevoid99 2013

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