“Persepolis” – 2007 New York Film Festival Review

Persepolis is the name of an ancient capital of Persia, located in modern-day Iran. It is also the title of a popular graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi which has been turned into an animated feature length film in French.

This eye-opening movie – which closed the 2007 New York Film Festival – is more than a story; it is Satrapi’s fascinating memoir of growing up during the Iranian Revolution. Marjane goes through love, heartache, delving into Marxism, discovering the punk scene and questioning the world around her. During her high school years, she is sent to boarding school in Austria because of her outspoken views on Iran and her parents’ fear for her safety.

Even when living away from Iran, Marjane still grapples with how others perceive her but eventually gains acceptance. Subsequently, she goes back to Iran to go to art school and eventually marries, all the while speaking against Iran’s religious dictatorship. But then her marriage crumbles, and Marjane makes the bold decision to go to France and begin a new life.

The movie features the vocal talents of real life mother and daughter Catherine Deneuve and Chiara Mastroianni. Danielle Darrieux voiced Marjane’s sassy grandmother. The entire movie is drawn in black and white, which fit the dark subject matter. Still, as pessimistic as the story may be, you get the sense that there is a way out.