Captivating ‘The Persian Version’ Review: Navigating the Lively Chaos of an Iranian Family

Director Maryam Keshavarz takes us on a whirlwind journey with her lively sophomore feature, ‘The Persian Version’. This energetic and enjoyable memoir of a film is a heartfelt narrative of an Iranian family’s immigrant experience in New York. While it is a bit busy, Keshavarz skillfully brings her family’s story to life in a whirlwind of emotions, combining humor and self-reflection. The film was met with acclaim and even bagged the Screenwriting and Audience awards at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival.

Multilayered Storytelling

The Persian Version

In ‘The Persian Version’, Keshavarz artfully celebrates the intergenerational connection of mothers and daughters. She dubs it a "true story, sort of," as she seamlessly weaves her own life’s major events with her mother’s. At times, the narrative feels like several movies stitched together. Yet, remarkably, it maintains a cohesive and engaging flow.

Characters and Complex Relationships

Family Dynamics - YouTube

The film stars Layla Mohammadi as Leila, an aspiring filmmaker navigating life post-divorce. The story takes an unexpected twist during a costume party when Leila crosses paths with a Hedwig costume-clad individual. What follows is a life-altering encounter that leads to a surprise pregnancy, resulting in a complicated relationship that Leila decides to embrace. Meanwhile, her father awaits a heart transplant, and Leila’s eight brothers and her mother are a constant presence by his hospital bedside.

Flashbacks and Deep Roots

Keshavarz masterfully utilizes flashbacks to transport us to Leila’s childhood in 1980s Brooklyn. Her mother, portrayed by Niousha Noor, goes from struggling to provide for the family to becoming a successful real estate agent. Noor’s performance serves as the backbone of ‘The Persian Version,’ while Mohammadi brings in a modern, almost ‘Fleabag’-style humor.

Unearthing the Past

The film delves into the complex mother-daughter relationship, with Leila discovering her mother’s untold story while staying with her grandmother, Mamanjoon, during her father’s hospitalization. A new layer of their history unfolds, revealing the struggles that brought her parents to America. Teenage Shireen’s portrayal, played by Kamand Shafieisabet, provides poignant insights into the past, with a young Shireen marrying a village doctor at the tender age of 14, grappling with tragedies far beyond her years.

‘The Persian Version’ review: A bustling, busy Iranian family offers a remarkable narrative that captures the essence of family bonds and the intricate stories that shape our lives. Keshavarz’s ability to blend multiple timelines and emotional layers into one cohesive piece makes it a must-see for those who appreciate a rich and diverse cinematic experience.

Cinematic Success at Sundance 2023

What is the Persian Version About?

‘The Persian Version’ is a visually captivating film that serves as a vibrant celebration of the immigrant experience, skillfully navigating the complexities of two cultures. Within its colorful frames, the movie explores how the true divisions often lie within our own families. This sharp and witty tale revolves around an Iranian American woman, shedding light on her journey as she straddles the worlds of two ethnicities while facing the intricacies of her family dynamics.

Does the Persian Version Ruin the Movie?

In ‘The Persian Version,’ the majority of the narrative unfolds as a sharp and witty portrayal of an Iranian American woman’s journey through her dual ethnicities and family dynamics. However, some viewers have noted that the final 20 minutes exhibit a formulaic TV sitcom-like quality. While this segment doesn’t entirely undermine the movie, it does slightly diminish the overall film quality.

Is ‘The Persian Version’ a Harried Movie?

While it undeniably possesses self-reflective and humorous charm, ‘The Persian Version’ clinched both the Screenwriting and Audience awards at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. However, some might notice that the film, at times, comes across as slightly harried. Within ‘The Persian Version,’ director Keshavarz beautifully celebrates the intergenerational connections between mothers and daughters.

Who is Leila in ‘The Persian Version’?

Meet Leila (Layla Mohammadi), the central character in ‘The Persian Version.’ Leila aspires to be the "Iranian Martin Scorsese," and her journey is at the heart of Maryam Keshavarz’s semi-autobiographical exploration of a burgeoning Iranian American director and her dynamic family life.

What is the Central Theme of ‘The Persian Version’?

At its core, ‘The Persian Version’ is a profoundly touching film that delves into the intricate bonds between mothers and daughters. This exploration extends to themes of cultural identity and the transmission of generational trauma. Departing from traditional narrative structures, the film employs a fluid approach, enabling a more profound connection with the characters and their compelling stories.

How did ‘The Persian Version’ Fare at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival?

‘The Persian Version’ left an indelible mark at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, claiming both the Screenwriting and Audience awards. Despite being described as a tad harried by some, the film’s self-reflective and humorous charm resonated strongly with festival-goers, solidifying its place as a standout feature at this prestigious event.

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