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Dear Chickens short film review - a heartwarming tale of hope, strength and friendship

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You might think it’s impossible to have your heart broken and put back together in just 15 minutes, but Dear Chickens (2018) manages it with gentle ease. 

Image courtesy of: Salaud Morisset

The Oscar qualified short-film is just quarter of an hour long, but it more than packs a punch in the short time it’s on screen. Directed by Mauro Mueller, Dear Chickens is the heart-warming tale of Emil (Phillip Baker Hall), an elderly man suffering from cancer and how his world is changed when a stubborn and angry-at-the-world teenage girl, Nora (Kerris Dorsey) moves into his room.

Nora is tenacious and determined to not have any more chemo. Her father doesn’t visit her so she spends her days in bed with her headphones in, ignoring doctors, nurses and Emil.

Emil gives up all hope of bonding with his new room-mate until they make an unlikely bond over a mutual hatred of chemotherapy and terrible hospital food.

“You’re eating that?” Nora winces in disgust as Emil finally gives in and eats the beige and stomach-unsettling food. 

“These poor chickens. They had such miserable lives, for their eggs to wind up here. Dear chickens, we must do our part to honour you. We are so sorry that your life turned out like this,” Replies a defiant Emil – revealing the true meaning behind the films some-what strange title. 

Image courtesy of: Salaud Morisset

The generation-defying friendship between Emil and Nora is truly uplifting to watch - they’re unlikely friends who have more in common than they both think. They’re both strong-willed and courageous, two traits which make them increasingly likeable characters whom you will root for until the very end. Baker Hall is fantastic, and it's not hard to see how he won the best actor award at the Los Angeles Shorts International Film Festival.

Despite boasting a truly mesmerising soundtrack including Mozart’s Requiem“How fitting - It’s the Requiem. For the dead. Like us.”, Dear Chickens doesn’t show off – it’s set between the walls of a hospital room with only a handful of scenes taking place outside. There are just four characters in the whole cast and yet it feels just as accomplished as any other great film.

Its simplicity is perhaps to what it owes its success, it would be easy to over-emote and add gratuitous sadness to a film about two people with cancer, but Dear Chickens is refreshingly real. In life there are good and bad days – even people who are dying have moments of belly-aching laughter to balance out the days of sorrow.  

Image courtesy of: Salaud Morisset

Dear Chickens will leave you with a positive message to take away. Don’t give up, even when the days are getting darker and you feel like there’s no way out, there always is. There’s always a chance to grab life by the horns and really live. Life is what you make it, and there’s always a chance to make it great. In a time where many films are filled with violence and upset it’s comforting to watch a film that lets you know that everything is going to be ok.  

As Emil says: “When I was your age, I had no idea how extraordinary my life would turn out to be.”

 

Dear Chickens is available on Amazon Prime. Watch it here.




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