The Persian Version (2023)

Movie Info

Movie Notes

This picture was supposed to be posted last month.

Movie Info

Maryam Keshavarz
Run Time
1 hour and 47 minutes

VP Content Ratings

Sex & Nudity
Star Rating
★★★★4 out of 5
Leila & her mother Shirin enjoy dancing together.  (c) Sony Pictures Classics
Leila & her Iranian American mother enjoy dancing together. (c) Sony Pictures Classics

Iranian-American Maryam Keshavarz’s colorful film is different from those about most immigrant families. Most such films deal with culture clash between the parents and younger members. This one, in addition includes the daughter being a lesbian whose liaison with a transgender partner produces a baby—and in a major segment focuses upon the strong-willed mother who becomes the family breadwinner when her doctor husband becomes ill, in need of a heart transplant. This part takes us back to Iran where something happens that the mother has kept secret.

Ms. Keshavarz’ autobiographical tale, she says is “Based on a true story, sort of.” The only girl in a family with eight brothers, Leila’s greatest source of conflict is with her formidable mother Shirin (Niousha Noor). The scene in which she brings home her partner Maxmilian (Tom Byrne), an English actor in New York playing the title role in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, is hilarious, with the dinner table crowded by the eight brothers, two parents, and grandmother. Max, of course cannot understand when the brothers make remarks about him, which is just as well.

Leila frequently breaks the fourth wall with her explanations. Indeed, in one segment when she and her parents headed for a hospital and become stuck in traffic and the mother prays to a mythical Persian hero for help, Leila stops the action, gets out of the car, and gives the history of this mythical person—who, adding a touch of fantasy to the film shows up on a motorcycle.

There are many enjoyable moments in the film, including the delightful grandmother Mamanjoon (Bella Ward) who enjoys dancing with her granddaughter. Both Leila and her mother Shirin are good examples of strong women struggling against the world (how Shirin becomes a wildly successful realtor in America despite her earlier lack of schooling is inspiring), and the portion that takes place when Sherin was a 13-year-old girl whose great intellectual promise was cut short by her father’s forcing her to marry the older Dr. Ali Reza (Shervin Alenabi), introduces us to a fine actor playing he as a young woman,  Ali Reza (Shervin Alenabi).

There are some wild and crazy moments, such as in the hospital, when this whacky family will make you laugh. A very different take on the immigrant experience in America!

This review is in the December issue of VP along with a set of questions for reflection and/or discussion. If you have found reviews on this site helpful, please consider purchasing a subscription or individual issue in The Store.

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