Written and directed by Josh Leong, in a Bronx juvenile prison, a 16-year-old boy faced with losing custody of his child must discover what it takes to be a father by raising a chicken. Starring: Jordan Biggs, Biorkys Acosta, Opal Besson.
Unsurprisingly the strongest element to Chicken is also the one that strikes first, its sharp and rich visual. The cinematography holds a compelling depth, the colour has a beautiful texture and the direction lets it speak volumes. One of the reasons that the direction and aesthetic is so effective is because it pushes the meaningful nature of this story. It has an impressive amount to say in the way that it moves, lending a voice to the things that go unsaid in the dialogue. It creates an atmosphere of sadness and anxiety, feeling trapped by a future which seems inescapably inevitable.
However, the story itself at times feels too vague, it brings in the emotions and message but only a minimal level of detail for its characters. That’s not to say that the story doesn’t still hold a lot of value, its general feel leaves it open to a lot of relatability. It also manages to create a captivating range of feelings, little has to be said for you to understand this young man’s struggle. It opens up a discussion about cycles of violence and injustice, if a person is told their whole life that they only have one path, they’ll typically find themselves resigned to it. It’s the entire purpose of Chicken, to highlight how important it is to create opportunities for change, to allow young children to step outside of what they know and forge a better path.
While it may not provide a lot of detail to its lead, Jordan Biggs’ performance does a good job of making up for that. His fear and vulnerability is palpable, the desperation to find a better life for himself, and in turn for his child, when still only a child himself. It demonstrates the immense pressure that is put upon someone in his position, and the consequence of how easy it is to then just give in to path of least resistance. He’s supported well by Biorkys Acosta and Opal Besson, while Acosta provides another similar struggle and opens up the emotion, Besson shows how helpless you can feel in trying to encourage them in the right direction, and to give them to skills to follow it through.
Chicken is a touching exploration of violent cycles of abuse and crime, and the dedication it takes to escape, when you’re constantly being pushed back. It may not bring a more satisfying level of detail to its characters but its message and morals are clear. It’s an intensely worthy topic to explore and the cinematography and direction do it sincere justice. The colours are rich and where the story may say little, its visual says plenty.