Pecking Order



I’ll be perfectly honest, I really didn’t expect to enjoy this film. A documentary about a bunch of obsessive Kiwi chicken-breeders? it doesn’t really tick any of my boxes, but it is, quite literally, the only film on offer that we haven’t already seen. Which only goes to show how wrong you can be. This quirky, amusing little movie really is good fun and a perfectly pleasant way to spend one hour and twenty eight minutes.

It’s 2015 and the members of the Christchurch Poultry Club, founded one hundred and forty eight years ago, are fast approaching their own ‘night of the long knives.’ The elderly chairman of the society is being challenged by younger members who have plenty of ideas about how the club can be changed for the better, but he’s stubbornly staying in his seat – and meanwhile, the National Poultry Show is fast approaching. Can everything be sorted out in time for that all-important event? Well, yes, but it’s going to take some considerable wheeling and dealing.

The film introduces us to an eclectic bunch of characters, young and old (but, it has to be said, mostly old) all of whom are totally obsessed with the idea of breeding prize winning poultry and are ready and willing to share their secrets with the audience. They are a mostly likeable, if somewhat eccentric collection. We watch them shampooing and blow-drying their roosters, manicuring them and inspecting them for feather damage in the dead of night. We also find out exactly what the judges are looking for in a prize winning bird. Purple feathers? That’s a no-no (apparently).

I’ll be honest, this is nobody’s idea of a cinematic masterpiece. But it’s an enjoyably hokey slice of entertainment, wittily directed by Slavko Martinov and at the end of the day, that’s surely no bad thing. Does it inspire me to think about taking this up as a hobby? Well, no, but I do find myself looking at poultry with a fresh eye and thinking to myself, ‘Lovely plumage on that one.’

Which is worrying…

4 stars

Philip Caveney


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