The title of this 2015 film from writer/director Anders Thomas Jensen caught my eye while flicking the terrestrial channel guide on my TV and after seeing it starred Mads Mikkelsen I hit that record button with no hesitation.
Now the synopsis granted to the film is relatively straight forward, we know it is a tale about two differing brothers, Elias (Mads Mikkelsen) and Gabriel (David Dencik) who through an attempt to learn more about their, until recently, unknown family soon discover that where they came from might not exactly what they expected.
Through some madcap antics, zoophilia and family arguments over which plate is better we start to unravel the mystery of why the brothers have different mothers, and seemingly very different traits.
The acting is of a very high standard and while the viewer won’t particularly feel sympathetic to any of the characters, nor are they especially relatable, they do convey the themes of the film quite well on the whole and underneath it all they are all human like you and I…or are they?
It is here that the almost multiple personality of the film comes into play, fitting considering the family home is a sanitarium, but this diversified feel is not a negative, the film knows exactly what it wants to be, but rather in how Anders Thomas Jensen portrays things – almost like a horror movie in parts. In fact had it not been played for absurdity it could so very easily have been something much more horrific but instead we are given a dark comedy-meets-family drama. One that hints at having something to say but ultimately falls short of any focused message.
Going back to the slight feeling or opportunity for horror, moments during MEN & CHICKEN put me in mind of the Belgian film CALVAIRE: THE ORDEAL, from 2004, thanks to it’s utterly bizarre nature and the previously referenced zoophilia.
Now I don’t want to go into too much detail about the film, as in this case I genuinely do believe that it would ruin it, however I still felt compelled to write a little something after seeing it. Overall this is a film that is worth a watch for all those who enjoy quirky, oddball films and while the humour certainly won’t be to everyones taste it still makes for a fun and intriguing film.