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Persepolis Movie Review

Persepolis: A World That's Not So Black and White

In many ways Persepolis is a familiar coming-of-age story that is universally relatable for anyone who struggled to find an identity on the way to adulthood or who found the overnight changes to the teenage body freaky. On the other hand, the comic-book animation and writer/co-director Marjane Satrapi's honest telling of her extraordinary adolescence in Iran make this movie something altogether unique.

Persepolis is based on the best-selling comic book-as-memoir written by Satrapi, which recounts her life growing up in a politically tumultuous era of Iranian history that persists today. Full of humor and wry observations about her younger self, this film is a fresh take on how resilient the human spirit can be despite extremely repressive tyrannical regimes. To find out the other reasons I recommend this fabulous Oscar-nominated movie,

Marjane is a precocious little girl obsessed with Bruce Lee karate moves and adored by her upper-middle class parents and grandmother. If the modern images of Iranian women cloaked in dark robes say one thing about their status in this society, the female characters portrayed in Persepolis say something entirely different. Though living under the Shah's dictatorship, the well-educated adults in the story passionately discuss leftist politics and willfully defy the protocols of the day by throwing secret parties for their friends. But soon enough, a revolution begins to stir and whatever hopes her parents have for a more free society are soon crushed when a new Islamic regime takes over.

The situation worsens as Marjane comes of age in a war-torn country ruled by an intolerant regime. To her parents' horror, Marjane's precociousness turns to pure rebellion, talking back to teachers and purchasing American punk music off the street. Desperate, her parents send her off to Vienna, but joining the Western world as an awkward teen from a place many don't understand presents a new set of complications (including romantic ones). Marjane no longer fits into the country of her youth, but is unsure of how to reconcile this with her love of her family and an ambivalence toward the West.

Voiced by a superb cast of accomplished French actors including Catherine Deneuve, Simon Akbarian, and Danielle Darrieux, the characters in Persepolis are exquisitely developed and nuanced. The grandmother is an especially lively mix of old-world traditions and modern-day sass. It's hard to believe all this is conveyed through a palette that is merely variations of gray. And though you sometimes feel as hopeless as Marjane, Satrapi's wonderfully modern, almost art deco-inspired animation reminds you that this young girl became a woman who fulfilled her wildest dreams, despite all odds.

Photos courtesy of Sony Pictures

Join The Conversation
QueenOfAllCosmos QueenOfAllCosmos 9 years
"Because it is about Iran, I seriously think that people are afraid to say it wasn't as good as it could have been" You didn't like it because it didn't appeal to you, end of story. That comment was awful to say and if people out there are truly like that then they should be ashamed. "I had high expectations for this movie and was disappointed. While striking visually, I found the story development lacking" You can't expect for someone to go into perfect details about their life because A.) They might not want to B.) You can't really remember absolutely every detail in your life. I liked both the books and the movie, it felt sort of close to home since my earliest memories always have terrorism written all over them. I do believe that this is a masterpiece, her style is different and to the point unlike most of the crap that's out lately.
snowysakurasky snowysakurasky 9 years
marjane was on the colbert report and is very chamring... i would like to see this but don't know when ill get the chance
Blackwidowchick Blackwidowchick 9 years
I am definitely going to see this movie.
Choco-cat Choco-cat 9 years
I went and saw this movie and really enjoyed it.
Kaysnowboarder Kaysnowboarder 9 years
Buzz this is a really good review - I saw it and thought it was a really visually and interesting movie. I liked the perspective that it gave me about women in Iran through the regime change. I thought the animation was different and put a really nice light on the subject matter. I loved the grandmother!
shanimalcracker shanimalcracker 9 years
The animation in the film was great and I enjoyed it. I definitely didn't go in watching it with the highest expectations and just looked to be entertained. It definitely satisfied that and left me feeling like I learned a little more about what the situation in Iran possibly was like.
Jezzabella Jezzabella 9 years
While not perfect it was def. a good movie and i heard the books were fabulous!! i loved the character! I just didn't like how abruptly it ended
bethany21 bethany21 9 years
I can't wait to see this!
beingtazim beingtazim 9 years
i'm glad you liked it. i am really looking forward to seeing it. i'm going to watch it on dvd so my expectations are a bit lower when i see it. (since i'm not shelling out $15)
liltandweave liltandweave 9 years
I read the graphic novels a few years ago and really enjoyed this, and have been wanting to see the movie for months. Thanks for the review!
XSofieX XSofieX 9 years
I saw this like 6 month ago and really liked it. Its kind of a slow movie but its funny and shows a very down to earth and real side of the Iranian people which is not always the centre of attention in the global media
Linda-McP Linda-McP 9 years
Great review, Buzz. Looking forward to seeing this soon.
Nitachequita Nitachequita 9 years
I'm with MindayH. I had high expectations for this movie and was disappointed. While striking visually, I found the story development lacking. There were interesting issues that should have been addressed but just got dropped midstream.
caryatid caryatid 9 years
loved the books, very interested to see the movie! is it out on dvd yet?
raieven raieven 9 years
I'll be seeing this for a class, woot.
MindayH MindayH 9 years
I think that because there are great reviews of Persepolis everywhere...I expected it to be this amazing movie. Because it is about Iran, I seriously think that people are afraid to say it wasn't as good as it could have been. It was definitely OK, borderline good. I think that I just did not find the movie compelling whatsoever. I definitely checked the time on my phone after 38 minutes, 55, an hour and 15, and right before it ended. The other people I saw it with basically agree as well (one thought it was boring, one a definite good, and the other agreed with me) If you want to see a good french vote is for the Diving Bell and Butterfly.
nyaradzom2001 nyaradzom2001 9 years
i would love to watch this, have to wait for the DVD or find it online. jspeed who wrote reading lolita in tehran?
jspeed jspeed 9 years
I really want to see this. I just re-read "Reading Lolita in Tehran" which also deals with women's experiences under the regime during the Iranian Revolution. It is a very eye-opening book. I would like to read Persepolis as well.
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