Chicken for Linda!

Chicken for Linda! is certainly one of the year’s odder movie titles. Don’t let it throw you off. This animated feature from France easily wins you over with its minimalist style and maximum charm. Having already earned its homeland’s César Award as Best Animated Film, it now comes to our shores courtesy of GKIDS, the company devoted to releasing the most ambitious, inventive, and innovative animated fare from around the world. They’ve got another winner on their hands.

The story revolves around young Linda (Mélinée Leclerc), who is wrongly accused by widowed mother Paulette (Clotilde Hemse) of stealing a ring she’s sentimental about. Feeling guilty, Paulette offers Linda anything she wants as a form of apology. The child is hungry and asks for chicken. Easy enough, except there’s a citywide labor strike taking place, meaning no supermarkets or restaurants are open. Mother and child subsequently go on a madcap adventure in search of a chicken they can eat.

The hand-painted visual style of Chicken for Linda! is lower-key than most animated features. Characters essentially look like rough pencil drawings that have been filled in with a single color. Linda is yellow, Paulette is orange, etc. Objects and locations are presented similarly. At first, the approach seems like it will be a distraction, but once you get used to it, the effect is pleasing. The mixture of bold colors in any given scene is reminiscent of a child’s drawing where they want to use every crayon in the box. That helps us see the world from Linda’s perspective.

Laughs arise from the complications the characters face in their mission. Underneath that comedy is an honest portrayal of a mother/daughter relationship. You can feel Paulette’s stress at being a single mom, just as you can feel Linda’s need to be understood by her. The voice acting is top-notch, making sure the funnier elements are grounded in something real and identifiable.

With a running time of 75 minutes including end credits, this is a very short film. It tells its story economically, using several witty musical numbers to help advance the themes. The finale, which is designed to evoke the early days of cinema, is particularly ingenious. Chicken for Linda! doesn’t develop the supporting characters – i.e. Linda’s friends - as much as it could have given their eventual importance, yet it’s still a sweet tale guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

out of four

Chicken for Linda! is unrated, but contains mild language. The running time is 1 hour and 15 minutes.


© 2024 Mike McGranaghan