Chicken With Plums

Chicken With Plums is the live action followup to Paronnaud and Satrapi's first feature, the black and white animated beauty Persepolis. Like its predecessor, the film is based on one of Satrapi's graphic novels. Admittedly, her ideas translate more shakily to live action than they do to animation, though Chicken With Plums still offers a lot of visual flair.

We open on Tehran in the 1950s, where a middle-aged violinist (Mathieu Amalric) has just seen his prize violin destroyed. Deciding that his life is no longer worth living, he gives himself eight days to wrap up his affairs and die. We're told pretty much right off the bat that he does in fact die after those eight days, and so the film darts in and out of his past and present as he prepares for the inevitable.

What follows is a collection of cinematic flights of fancy, occasional bits of slapstick humor that do not work at all, and finally a deeply moving denouement that reveals the tragic core of the violinist's life. Chicken With Plums could stand some improvements, but its nearly wordless third act is immensely rewarding, carried aloft by Olivier Bernet's wonderful score.