Reviews

Preview: A Chick Flick

Courtesy of David Charry

An official selection of the 2017 Oxford International Film Festival, A Chick Flick is a short film that addresses a serious and sensitive moment with humor and originality. “A young woman is forced to reconnect with her hippie mother in order to euthanize their beloved pet chicken after it is mauled by a vicious coyote.”

Among the chaos of the film’s story, there are moments of breathtaking natural beauty.

Writer and director of A Chick Flick, Lucy McKendrick, is an Australian filmmaker who graduated with a MFA in Directing from the prestigious American Film Institute Conservatory. The premise of A Chick Flick is a story that closely resembles her own past. McKendrick notes:

“The story of B’Gawk is taken from my childhood when our family raised chickens in our semi-rural suburban home. We were a pet family, owning dogs, a cat, birds, fish, at one time a couple of turtles who one night clambered out of their small pond and hobbled on to conquer, or so we hope, greater ponds (God bless you Squishy). Our animals were an extension of our family, a great source of humour, entertainment and at times, heartbreak. […]

“Then one day Larry [our pet chicken which was more like a pet dog] was taste tested by a greedy pack of foxes.  They attacked our chickens, mauled, and ravaged their feathery bodies and left them for dead…all but Larry, our baby Larry.

“It was up to my Mother and I to put little Larry out of her misery. But for born and raised city women the practical act of slaughtering poultry was not second nature. It took an unfortunately long time and numerous strategies to finally kill her. It was a moment in my life, equal parts ridiculous and heartbreaking, where for a long hour we transcended our shortcomings and banded together over a common goal.”

McKendrick’s personal connection to the plot of this film explains the authentic feel of this piece. A Chick Flick centers around a sad event—euthanizing one’s own chicken—but addresses it with equal parts compelling drama and quirky humor. The circumstances, score, and acting are grave enough to give the drama weight, while the dialogue and directorial decisions give way to self-aware comedy. A particularly hilarious but also jarring sequence consists of the protagonist and her mother searching for and debating the most humane ways to kill their chicken.

Three technical standouts in this picture are the directing, cinematography, and music. The majority of the film is set outdoors, and the exterior shots are particularly scenic. Among the chaos of the film’s story, there are moments of breathtaking natural beauty. Drums and other percussion instruments are a key parts of the score; departures from the usual string-heavy score is a detail I always appreciate when watching films, especially if it is well-done. Another admirable sound design feature is skillful use of silence. Juxtaposed with a percussion-intensive score, moments of quiet can be powerful. I’m also a sucker for a good closing credits sequence, and this film delivers on that front.

You can see A Chick Flick on May 6th in the Oxford International Film Festival held at the Phoenix Picturehouse. For ticketing information visit oxiff.com/tickets.

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