Persepolis

I wish I could write a lengthy new review, but you see, there’s a writers’ strike going on and we can’t do too much new material. However, us writers are allowed to warm up old material, which comes in pretty handy as we’ve just witnessed the end of 2007 and it’s high time for our annual check in the rear view mirror.

It’s also pretty handy because I never got round to what ended up as my favourite movie of the year: Persepolis.

Persepolis is an animated feature based on Marjane Satrapi‘s comic (which she based on her own life). Marji grew up in Iran and witnessed the many changes the country had to endure. Her parents wanted to shield her as much as they could, which is why Marjane spent several years in Europe.

Does that sound weapy? It shouldn’t: despite the occasionally heavy tone Persepolis has many scenes which will have you laugh louder than you’d expected.

The movie even looks like a comic because most of it (apart from a couple of scenes in contemporary Europe) is drawn in black and white. And because sometimes the images look larger than life. Take for example the still that’s embellishing the top of this article: contrary to what some may think, Iranian women don’t look as bent as that.

Little Marjane is a bit of a rebel, which apparently runs in the family, as her grandmother always told her to be straight and sincere, no matter what the consequences. This, combined with the permissive attitude of her parents, often lands Marjane into trouble. Even if she doesn’t care.One of the funnier scenes is when a police car chases her because she’s running after a bus. Marjane is told to stop because running causes her behind to move, which is impudent. Reply: “Well, then stop staring at my ass.”

If you like that joke, you’ll love Persepolis. Even if some of the scenes are so stylish the style gets in the way of the story, most of it is so genuinely emotional or funny, Persepolis has no trouble outshing the rest of 2007’s movies. That the movie version stayed so personal is because Satrapi directed it herself, together with Vincent Peronnaud.

The cast (read: people with voices) consists of Chiara Mastroianni (a name you’ll keep linking to “Eye of the Tiger” after you’ve seen the movie) and Cathérine Deneuve. Depending on whether you watch the French version the grandmother will be voiced by either Danielle Darrieux or Gena Rowlands. However, the English dub manages to leave you more starstruck as Iggy Pop and Sean Penn also gave their voice to a character.

But do not doubt this for a moment: the true star of Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi, whether she’s animated or not.

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