CHICKEN WITH PLUMS is a visually stimulating French movie that discusses the subjects of life, death, love, and regret.
Teheran, 1958. Nasser Ali Khan, one of the most famous violinists, lives with his wife. Nasser Ali doesn’t love his wife, and his two children give him no joy. He focuses all his time and attention on his music and his search for the perfect violin.
Nasser’s wife, Faringuisse, sends him to take their son to the doctor, but instead, Nasser spends all the money on a special new violin. Faringuisse is frustrated that Nasser takes no responsibility in anything. In a burst of anger, she grabs Nasser’s violin and smashes it on the ground.
Nasser is utterly devastated his beloved violin is destroyed. He coldly tells his wife he will never forgive her. Losing all love for life, Nasser decides to crawl into bed and die. Eight days later he dies and is buried.
Now for many movies, this is the end; but, for CHICKEN WITH PLUMS, this is where the story really starts. It goes back to the eight days prior to Nasser’s death.
Day one, he fantasizes all the different ways he could kill himself. However, after going through many different options, he can’t find one that suits him. So, instead he decides to lie in bed and wait for death to take him.
Through dreams, we see Nasser’s life as a youth and his start as a violinist. We also see the future of his children’s lives when Nasser is visited by Azrael, the Angel of Death.
In between the dreams states of reminiscence and nightmare, Nasser Ali spends his time pondering in bed. His wife tries to reconcile with him, and even summons his younger brother to help, but Nasser Ali is determined to die. As day eight approaches and death nears, Nasser’s story becomes more clear. In a dramatic ending, viewers learn why the violin was so important for Nasser Ali to give up on life and how it made him a musical genius.
CHICKEN WITH PLUMS is brilliantly made. The story is emotional and gripping. The acting is marvelous and the visuals are visceral. That being said, the worldview of the movie does pose some problems. It delves into the ideas of the human soul and experience, similar to that of Romanticism. Even though we understand why Nasser Ali decided to die in the end and we empathize with him, he still reeks of selfishness. There is a sweet scene in which Nasser Ali ponders why he hasn’t died yet. He wonders if someone’s prayers are stopping him from dying. The camera then pans through the rooms of his sleeping family till it comes to his son, who kneeling on his bed is praying for his dad. This is perhaps the high point of the movie.
Otherwise, however, the movie’s strong Romantic worldview poses too many problems for the media-wise viewer. CHICKEN WITH PLUMS also contains too much content that warrants extreme caution; such as: protagonist fantasizes killing himself multiple different ways such as suffocating himself, throwing himself over a cliff, and in one instance he shoots himself in the head and blood squirts out; sexual content when, in a dream state, a woman with giant breasts approaches the main character who then buries his face and entire body in them; partial upper female nudity, partial rear female nudity, and upper male nudity; no drinking; heavy smoking of cigarettes; and, even smoking opium at one point!
(RoRo, B, LL, VV, S, NN, DD, MM) Strong Romantic worldview that tries to understand the human experience through emotion, with some references to prayer, such as a child’s prayer is keeping his father from death; seven light obscenities and four light profanities; protagonist fantasizes killing himself multiple different ways such as suffocating himself, throwing himself over a cliff, and in one instance he shoots himself in the head and blood squirts out; sexual content when, in a dream state, a woman with giant breasts approaches the main character who then buries his face and entire body in them; partial upper female nudity, partial rear female nudity, and upper male nudity; no drinking; heavy smoking of cigarettes and even opium at one point; and, dysfunctional family portrays father in poor light.
CHICKEN WITH PLUMS takes place in Iran, circa 1958. Nasser Ali is one of the best violinists of his time. Although though he has a wife and children, Nasser spends all of his time in his music. His wife grows jealous of her husband’s love. In a burst of anger, she destroys Nasser’s beloved violin. Nasser is so devastated he decides to crawl in bed till he dies. Eight days later he dies and is buried. The movie takes a look at Nasser’s past, his family’s future, and the eight days prior to his death to discover why Nasser gave up on life.
CHICKEN WITH PLUMS is visually stunning with vibrant images that convey the story very emotionally. The music is moving and the acting genuine, but, as compelling as the story is, the worldview is strongly Romantic. The protagonist is extremely selfish. This hurts the people around him. CHICKEN WITH PLUMS has a couple of worthwhile uplifting moments. However, the Non-Christian worldview and severe objectionable content pose too many problems for media-wise viewers.