"“However strange and eccentric you may have imagined it to be – it’s even more so”"

Firstly, don’t let the film’s peculiar title put you off, when translated into French – the origin of the feature, it becomes Poulet aux Prunes, which I’m sure you’ll agree sounds much cooler.

Although the film itself is just about as absurd and incongruous as they come, as we follow the life of Nasser Ali (Mathieu Amalric), a gifted musician who decides to die following an argument with his wife Faranguisse (Maria de Medeiros) in which his treasured Tar (an Iranian instrument comparable to a violin) is broken.

Despite trying a variety of other models, none felt right to Nasser Ali, and due to his adoration towards his former instrument, he decides that life just isn’t worth living any more, and therefore descends to his bed, where he chooses to pass away.

When on his death bed, he has various thoughts and hallucinations – looking back over his own life, and predicting the future of his two endearing children, whilst also dreaming about the formerly potential relationship between himself and the attractive Irane (Golshifteh Farahani), which seemingly, was never meant to be.

But, if like me you have prejudged this film due to its quite unusual title (named after Nasser Ali’s favourite dish), then however strange and eccentric you may have imagined it to be – it’s even more so. There is a fine line between being too ridiculous, and remaining at a steady level of quirkiness, and one that was crossed throughout.

From Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi, the makers of the highly-successful and Oscar-nominated animation Persepolis, you could tell that this was a film created by animators. It’s visually enticing, as it bears a resemblance to a cartoon, helped along with the occasional animated interlude. With an abundance of colour and a surrealist looking set, it all looked quite trancelike. Although unfortunately, the visual experience is really the only one that’s at all enjoyable for the viewer.

I couldn’t really see beyond the idiosyncrasy and quirkiness. It was excessively bizarre and the story, when combined with the strange characters and settings, despite being funny in parts, was quite tedious after a short while, and given the films premise, could actually have been quite poignant – but instead opted for the outlandish route. 

Also, with such an unusual story and idea, I had been expecting an equally strange conclusion, or perhaps a big surprise of some sort – which sadly didn’t ever arrive.

I suppose the film is quite enjoyable in that you are never really wary of what may happen next, but overall it put too much effort into being so quirky, that is almost just felt quite contrived and unnatural. The idea of a man declining towards death out of choice has potential to be quite upsetting and provocative, and such emotions may have enhanced the feature if added.

But, in what I can only describe as being one of the most French films I’ll ever stumble across, I would have to, regrettably, suggest giving this film a miss. Although if there is one thing that has come out of the feature, is my desire to find a recipe for chicken with plums. It’s just a shame that in this case, the chicken is undercooked.