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Film Review: Persepolis

Persepolis (2007; Directed by Marjane Satrapi & Vincent Paronnaud)

Visually inventive, cleverly pitched, intermittently funny and heartbreaking, Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis was always a graphic novel that seemed to demand a fleshed-out filmic treatment. Since Satrapi herself, with an ample assist from animator Vincent Paronnaud, provides it, questions of fidelity in adaptation are rendered moot.

Punk, not dead? Clearly she hasn’t heard Simple Plan yet.

Certainly, no other filmmaker could have aptly brought a story so personal as Satrapi’s auto-bio-graphic novel to the screen. Furthermore, it wouldn’t have looked nearly right without Satrapi’s own unique black-and-white cartoon style, dominated by strong lines and rigid geometry but occasionally bursting playfully with delightful curlicues and peculiar flourishes redolent of Persian art history.

For the most part, Satrapi’s film is witty, affecting, and hefty with political currency. The vocal minority still echoing the stubborn neoconservative drumbeat for pre-emptive war against Iran would be well-served to see it and consider well. Nonetheless, it loses itself at points in its meandering second half. Much as the second installment of the graphic novel could not match the potent sharpness of the first, the last act or two of the film adaptation slips into personal indulgence and only near the end finds its way back to the hermeneutic potency of the opening section in Iran.

But it does find its way back, to its credit. Like Satrapi herself, Persepolis is drawn away from its heritage, but eventually finds its way back to the place it belongs while simultaneously realizing that, sometimes, finding your way home is ultimately impossible.

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Categories: Comics, Film, Reviews
  1. Nick
    June 26, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    You had me right up to “hermeneutic.” Damn!

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