While JUNO is getting all the acclaim - the nominations, the top ten list accolades, and the bank from repeat offender audience members - PERSEPOLIS, despite being nominated for Best Animated Feature and a plethora of good reviews is seemingly lost in the shuffle with few making the effort to go see it. I don't want that to happen - this film deserves to be seen by as many people as possible in its theatrical run. Let me tell you why in my review:
(Dir. Vincent Paronaud & Marjane Satrapi, 2007)
Retaining the look of the autobio-graphic novels on which it's based PERSEPOLIS is unique as both an animated film and as a coming of age period piece. The story is told by way of a muted colored (yeah, the whole thing isn't in gritty black and white) modern day flashback in which we meet Marjane (voiced by Gabrielle Lopes) - a bright outspoken preteen in Tehran in 1978.
Marjene is told by her loving father (Simon Abkarian) the history of her country in a swift but accurate storybook manner and she dreams of being a saving prophet of the Islamic revolution. Marjane's uncle (François Jerosme), a victim of the new regime, chooses her for his last single jail visit before his execution. This affects her deeply as she grows into a rebellious punk-loving teenager (from then on voiced by Chiara Mastroianni) who buys and lives by pirated tapes of American and British rock 'n roll.
All along the way there is stern advice from her sternly cautious but wisely kind grandmother (Danielle Darreux) and the dangerous daily life of a city constantly in turmoil. Marjane becomes a young woman literally before our eyes in an amusing scene that I won't give away.
We follow her to Vienna where as a student at the French Lycée she makes friends with cynical punky outsiders (complete with mohawks and leather jackets). We also witness a love affair relationship arc that takes a little wind out of our protagonist's sails (and sadly the movie's a bit) but Marjane gets her groove back with a little help from Survivor's "Eye Of The Tiger" from ROCKY III.
This film is only being distributed in America in its French language version with subtitles. While this may be considered the purist way to go - it is unfortunate because there is a English language version featuring the voices of Iggy Pop, Gena Rowlands, and Sean Penn. I would like both versions to get distribution, especially since it may affect attendance.
I saw this with only six other people in the audience and that is really depressing when the inferior overrated JUNO packed houses and is still in the top five at the box office. Marjane, even as a simplistic cartoon model, is a much more affecting character than Ellen Page's unrealistic glib one-liner machine. If only mass America would realize that and go see it. With its pointed humour yet sober sense of history PERSEPOLIS is pretty damn near perfect.