Men & ChickenCultureCinemaMovie reviews
Danish art-house director Anders Thomas Jensen is back, weaving his signature dark comedy into just about every difficult subject on the collective moral compass. He invites viewers not to sympathise, but to find humour in the naked shortcomings of the human condition. He also opens a world where cow/chicken hybrids roam leisurely through the family home. Weirdness grows exponentially.
Following the death of their father, brothers Elias (Mads Mikkelsen) and Gabriel (David Dencik) find out they are adopted, and are given the details of their real father. After tracking him down in the old sanatorium of a remote island, they lock horns with their oddball brothers. Their sick father is locked in a room they are not allowed to enter. This arouses suspicion, not helped by the knowledge of a secret basement – also forbidden. For the curious Gabriel, the answers must surely lie behind that door.
The haphazard plot is carried along by an equally bizarre cast of characters. Such is the mastery of these, there is no moment of dialogue between them that is not hilarious. The combination of Gabriel’s cold cynicism and Elias’ bumbling social incompetence is intensified by their union with brothers Franz (who takes any opportunity to beat someone with a stuffed animal), Gregor (consumed by the distant notion of “girls”) and Josef (the stodgy pragmatist).
Laughs are ceaseless and come in the strangest places. It is Elias who takes the lion’s share of these moments. Mads Mikkelsen is unflinchingly brilliant, proving his versatility once again in a role more ludicrous than anything he’s done before. His jacked-up pedantry around women is toe-curling, yet such is his obsession with them, he can’t go more than an hour without satisfying these urges in the nearest semi-intimate location.
Men & Chicken, whilst steady on the laughs, also manages to be touching. The character’s vulgarities become more excusable as the plot develops. It’s all about playing the cards you’re dealt – playing a bad hand well, not necessarily bluffing but believing. Director Jensen states the film is simplyabout “five brothers who have to find each other”. After initially connecting through violence, it’s that necessity that drives them: they are brothers = with a difference.
Men & Chicken is released in selected cinemas on 15th July 2016.
Watch the trailer for Men & Chicken here: