Men & Chicken
To summarise Anders Thomas Jensen's new sci-fi comedy drama staring Mads Mikkelsen, Men & Chicken is a concoction of madness that follows Gabriel and Elias, two socially illiterate brothers, who, upon discovering the people that raised them are not their biological parents, embark on a quest to find their real family. Who just so happen to live on a remote island of 41 inhabitants. And reside in an breathtakingly grand, ramshackle sanatorium. Things, as ever, are not what they seem. Via brawls with rolling pins and taxidermy, evolutionist bed time stories and the sacrifice of a seriously jacked up bull, Gabriel and Elias realise that they and their long-lost half-brothers (Franz, Josef and Gregor) transcend all preconceived paradigms of science and morality.
If, like me, you book a ticket for Men & Chicken due to a constant need for intellectual stimulation (i.e. a crippling boredom) and a burning curiosity then find yourself sitting through the trailers wondering what the hell you're about to watch, fear not. Those who seek 'something a bit different' and appreciate dark humour, you're in for a treat. It lives up to all of the kooky absurdity the title suggests. The collective performance is an extraordinary balance of eery and comical but Mikkelsen, in particular, is superb as elder brother Elias, a serial sexual fantasist whose extreme neuroticism makes Woody Allen look grounded. However satirical, his character presents an inexhaustible list of awful behavioural traits teamed with cynical, albeit very quotable, statements such as "to the deaf, those who dance look mad."
Here Jensen directs a family who are numb to the joys of life because they are inherently venomous. Though not an entirely original concept, Men & Chicken is something of a fresh take on a classic of the genre, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein: we see elements of the titular monster in Gabriel's wooden posture after he injures his back, the physical and emotional scaring of genetic experimentation, and the legacy of the brother's biological father whose work in stem cell research pushed the boundaries of biology and dabbled with the moral complexity of manipulating nature. What it skips in narrative depth, it makes up for in laughs and a genuine philosophical discourse - with added perversion even Jeremy Kyle couldn't tackle. Not for the easily offended.