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Chicken Review

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Fifteen-year-old Richard (Scott Chambers) lives in a caravan with his abusive older brother Polly (Morgan Watkins) and his pet chicken Fiona. As tensions between him and his brother rise, Richard befriends teenager Annabel (Yasmin Paige), whose family own the land they live on.

★★★★

There’s something of Pawel Pawlikowski's My Summer Of Love about this story of youngsters growing closer in the British countryside - and though this is a more chaste affair than the Emily Blunt starrer, it also features a breakout turn from a new young talent.

Scott Chambers is terrific as Richard, a teenage boy whose childlike enthusiasm for life is constantly knocked down.

Scott Chambers is terrific as Richard, a teenage boy with learning difficulties whose childlike enthusiasm for life is constantly knocked down by his angry brother Polly.

Morgan Watkins puts in a genuinely menacing turn as the volatile Polly, though he’s no one-note villain: this is an unhappy man whose backstory is gradually revealed as he angrily takes his frustrations out on his younger brother.

The two both have their own adventures in this absorbing drama from debut director Joe Stephenson: while drifter Polly goes out locally in search of both casual work and casual sex, Richard ambles around the countryside and into the company of the charismatic Annabel (Submarine’s Yasmin Paige), an outspoken, cheerfully flirtatious girl who enjoys Richard’s instant devotion and begins to soften as she understands the pressures he's under.

Based on a play by Freddie Machin, Chicken gently explores the divide between the rich and poor: privileged Annabel is visibly shocked by the conditions she sees Richard living in, while he can only dream of the love and safety she takes for granted. As the pair grow closer, the drama escalates, but never to a degree that feels contrived: Stephenson keeps events thoroughly believable, making them all the more suspenseful.

An enjoyable, involving British drama with an impressive turn from newcomer Scott Chambers.

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