A gently paced but bitingly satirical film about men and chickens, Omar El Zohairy’s debut feature Feathers won the Critics Week Grand Prize in Cannes, which should help this engaging oddity find an audience on the film festival circuit as well as critical approval.
Set against the dour backdrop of a bleak industrial zone, a diligent woman (an excellent Demyana Nassar), who initially barely speaks, lives with her husband and three children in a squalid apartment. The scene is set for a dark comedy that tackles the situation of women in Egyptian society…and adds in a few chickens for good measure.
The woman’s husband (Samy Bassouny) plays the lord and master, claiming he will buy a beautiful house one day, but the only person he is kidding is himself. Then, at a birthday party for one of the children, a magician convinces the husband to volunteer to take part in a magic trick. Placed in a wooden box, to the delight of all he is transformed into a chicken.
The only problem is, that changing him back proves a challenge, and the woman is left with a chicken in place of her husband. Left to be the sole breadwinner – as well as guardian of the still needy chicken – she sets about doing all she can to provide for her family as well as trying to find out what actually happened to her husband.
Director El Zohairy keeps the comedy engagingly wry and offbeat, and while initially it seems to be surreal comedic fare it also heads into darker territory, allowing the woman to change and develop as she deal with her situation and eventually stop short of nothing to make sure her new-found liberation is protected.
France-Egypt-Netherlands-Greece, 2021, 115mins
Dir Omar El Zohairy
Production Still Moving, Film Clinic, Kepler Films, Heretic
International sales Heretic
Producer Juliette Lepoutre, Pierre Menahem
Screenplay Omar El Zohairy, Ahmed Amer
Cinematography Kamal Samy
Editor Hisham Saqr
Main cast Demyana Nassar, Samy Bassouny, Fady Mina Fawzy,Abo Sefen Nabil Wesa, Mohamed Abd El Hady