Chicken (15)

Chicken (15)

Directed by Joe Stephenson
Picturehouse, Liverpool
22 June 2016

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

Although set in the present day this could have been a slice of life in England taken from the past forty years or so, except for one of the characters using a smartphone.

It includes a dynamic but sensitively nuanced acting performance by Scott Chambers, who plays Richard, a 15-year-old who has ‘learning difficulties’, a term which I dislike.

On the surface he seems to lead a simple and uncomplicated life, living with his brother Polly (Morgan Watkins) in a filthy and ramshackle small caravan on a large farm, amid the stunning countryside of Norfolk.

But below that exterior lies a complex and abstract character.

Richard has a strong rapport with the farm animals – both living and dead – notably Fiona the hen, unlike his lack of communication and empathy with people.

Nevertheless, he strikes up a tender and caring relationship with Annabel (Yasmin Paige), the adopted daughter of a family, who have recently moved into the farmhouse.

One of the most compelling scenes occurs when they first meet. They then wander through a beautiful forest dappled with strong sunlight. This is captured with great panache by Eben Bolter’s widescreen cinematography.

Inadvertently, and not in the context that Richard thinks the reason she said it, Annabel calls him a ‘freak’. This term hurts him a lot, illustrating how much of an outsider he considers himself to be from so-called normal people. But their platonic friendship blossoms and the closing scene of the film sees him given a fresh approach to his life and his past – in some ways – is banished in flames.

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