Chicken (2015) – Film Review
Director: Joe Stephenson
Cast: Scott Chambers, Morgan Watkins, Yasmin Paige
by Ashleigh Millman
Chicken is one of those films that I thought I had all figured out before I had even started watching. I believed I’d be faced with a cookie-cutter drama propped up by melodramatic plot points, working in as much emotional trauma as possible to get a reaction out of its audience. But that isn’t what I got.
What I watched instead was a truly touching portrayal of family and friendship – and something not quite like other films from the same genre. Whilst erring still on the side of melodrama, especially towards its climax, Chicken deftly presents real relationships, and is absolutely impressive when considering it’s Joe Stephenson’s debut offering to the film industry.
The narrative follows a young boy with learning difficulties named Richard (Scott Chambers), a wonderfully rounded character who communicates better with animals than with people. Alive or dead, Richard’s warmth to the creatures around him shines through in every encounter, but none more so than when with his titular pet chicken, Fiona.
Living with his volatile brother Polly (Morgan Watkins) in a caravan that’s closer to a slum than a house, Richard soon befriends new girl Annabelle (Yasmin Paige) when on his adventures around the local area, whose parents have bought the land they live on.
With Polly clashing with the new owners and looking for anything distraction away from Richard, tensions slowly boil away as the narrative progresses between the two brothers – with a fiery culmination coming to a head at the end of the film.
The film is superbly acted, with Chambers’s rendition of Richard a spectacle in itself. He doesn’t patronise or tiptoe around his representation of learning difficulties, instead offering a truly three-dimensional character that can be as annoying as he is endearing: an intrinsic part of a character-driven narrative. Paige and Watkins are just as natural, with the former a joy to watch in her scenes with Chambers.
Supported by a beautiful colour palette and great attention to detail throughout, it isn’t hard to get drawn into Chicken’s story, even though it doesn’t feel entirely obvious as to what that might be from the outset. We’re instead invited to experience the world with Richard, which proves to be as heart-breaking as it is charming as the movie unfolds further.
Whilst the film does lay it on thick in parts, it doesn’t prove detrimental to what turns out to be a poignant journey. Racking in at just under an hour and a half, Chicken is worth the time to give it a chance. Just keep the tissues close to hand.
‘Chicken’ is available now on DVD & Blu-ray