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Persepolis (2007)

Starring:

Amethyste Frezignac

Arié Elmaleh

Catherine Deneuve

Chiara Mastroianni

Danielle Darrieux

François Jerosme

Gabrielle Lopes Benites

Gena Rowlands

Iggy Pop

Lexie Kendrick

Mathias Mlekuz

Sean PennSean Penn

Simon Abkarian

Sophie Arthuys

Tilly Mandelbrot

Directed by:

Marjane Satrapi

Vincent Paronnaud

Rating: 9/10

Running Time: 96 minutes

US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: 12A

Country: United States, France

Persepolis – is it a washing powder, Godzilla’s arch rival or a new housing complex? Na-ah, it’s the big screen adaptation of an Iranian graphic novel about Marjane (Mastroianni), a girl growing up during troubled times in her country (with Iggy Pop in there for good measure). As a young girl, living with her disturbingly cool parents, she watches members of her family suffer under the authoritarian rule of the Shah only for it to be overthrown and replaced by the super-authoritarian rule of the religious elite. She spends her formative years moving back and forth between Europe and Iran, caught between two cultures and never really feeling at home in either.

From the crisp, original animation down to the engaging, funny story and clever use of the political and social context, Persepolis is a real treat to watch. The tone of the movie is just right as the rollercoaster ride is make you laugh, horrified and sad in equal measures and the animation even turns black and white, when inside Iran, to tell us when to feel sad. Marjane Satrapi (real woman, writer and director) and Vincent Paronnaud expertly mix a personal tale of growing up with the context of the extremes of an Iran that’s always in flux and neither facet ever becomes takes over and strangles the other.

It gets even better when you look at the way the Americans neverendingly churn out their comic book heroes in the same mauve manner and then compare it to this (and also the animated Israeli War beast Waltz With Bashir) fresh, interesting take on a different place and an entirely different story than those we’re used to in the West. At the same time, this is a classic coming of age story so definitely worth a watch even if the synopsis doesn’t sound like your thing.

It's Got: Fresh simple animation, a range of emotions, an engaging context, best Eye of the Tiger rendition ever

It Needs: No Sean Penn. He irritates me even when I can't see him.

DVD Extras Selected Scene Commentaries, Animated Scene Comparisons, "Behind-the-scenes of Persepolis" and "The Hidden Side of Persepolis" making of featurettes - would have been nice to have some kind of companion piece on the modern history of Iran DVD Extras Rating: 6/10

Alternatives:

Amelie, Grave of the Fireflies, Waltz With Bashir

Summary

An animated coming of age tale of a young Iranian girl – doesn’t sound all that? Give it a try, it’s awesome.

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