More than anything, Men & Chicken is a film is about family and accepting yourself and others just as you or they are. Based on a surreal premise, this film might not be everyone’s cup of tea. Some may find it shocking, disgusting, appalling and truth be told, it is all those things. But at the same time, it melts your heart a little bit at the end when you find that you, quite unexpectedly, care about what happens to its characters.
After their father passes away, brothers Elias (Mads Mikkelsen) and Gabriel (David Dencik) find out that their father was not their biological father and that they were adopted from a scientist when they were young. Gabriel has always felt unconnected with his brother, Elias who has an eccentric personality. In an attempt to bond with his biological parents, Gabriel convinces Elias that they must look for their family. In a deserted village of just about 40 people, they find that their father lives in a house with three sons. While the father remains elusive, Elias and Gabriel are introduced to their three brothers who are just as short-tempered, violent and child-like as Elias. They bicker like children, live with farm animals in the house and put themselves in steel cages as punishment for being ‘naughty’. Gabriel is frustrated and disappointed with his ‘new’ brothers yet curious about the whereabouts of his father and mother. He attempts to civilise these men living as children while investigating the secrets behind his father’s scientific research. What he finds reveals an ugly truth about his entire family and suddenly, everything seems to make sense.
Without revealing too much about the plot, let’s just say that this is one of a kind movie such as you have never seen before. The film has a grim undertone as most of its characters are suffering from some kind of mental and emotional issues. Despite this, the film delivers on humour that stems from the helplessness and complete absurdity of the situations that the characters face. There are things in the movie that just don’t make any sense and it almost feels like watching a kids cartoon series. For instance, when the brothers beat each other to pulp almost everyday and yet no one seems hurt. Or when we find that the mayor of the town is letting these nutcase brothers live in their house when they clearly require mental help and are a threat to others. But then these things can easily be overlooked because of the engaging narrative that keeps the audience interested in learning the mystery of this family.
The performance of all the actors is excellent. Each character has a unique personality that is apparent in their behaviours and actions throughout the film. The script is concise and very well written. The direction of the movie allows the audience to turn their attention towards the context and situations rather than just focusing on the dialogue. The cinematography and production design has been done to perfection. The house where the majority of the film has been shot is a brilliant fit to show the condition in which the brothers are living. It is huge, overbearing, disgusting and spooky all at the same time.
Men & Chicken is definitely one of the weirdest movies that you could see this year and often ventures into rather taboo territories while still getting some good laughs. If nothing else, it’s probably worth a watch just for the novelty of its plot and brilliant cinematography.
Men & Chicken is out on limited release now