Kernels: “Persepolis”

I’m going to occasionally post mini-reviews for things I’ve seen, but don’t have time to write in-depth about. I’m going to call these “Kernels”, and they’ll be fast, to-the-point takes on movies and TV shows with a grade (just like everything else). Remember, you can check out the grading scale to see just what any given rating means.

Grade: B+

I finally watched Persepolis after hearing such great things about it. This animated film is essentially the coming-of-age tale of an Iranian girl, coping with the historical problems plaguing her country as well as the universal problems all humans deal with, no matter where they’re from. The latter part of that is what makes this movie work so well, I think. Sure, the parts exploring the history of Tehran are interesting (though you will get a better history lesson elsewhere), but its the deeply human characters that bring this tale to life. Marjane Satrapi, the lead character, shares her name with the writer and director of this film because this is an autobiographical story, first penne din graphic novel format and now animated.

Speaking of the animation: When I first saw a trailer I was sort of unsure about it. The style is very cartoonish, and reminded me a little of those Matilda comics for some reason, and save for about 10 minutes (if that), the entire film is in black and white. But the animation is smooth and stylized in parts and the fact that it was b&w seemed to slip my mind after a bit. I thought the choice of style was interesting for a movie with such a serious story. It’s strange to see these events taking place in a cartoon style more fitting for a children’s story, but I think that’s part of the movie’s strange charm.

Come to think of it, this movie is pretty damn depressing. But sprinkled in throughout the bad is a lot of good, which mostly comes from Marjane’s interactions with her very close-knit family (especially her grandmother). No matter what happens to Marjane, she has that pillar of support in her life. The importance of family is most definitely at the heart of this film, or at least that’s what stood out most to me.

Oh and the best scene by far is Marjane singing an “Engrish” version of “Eye of the Tiger” in a cartoon-animated montage of sorts. Priceless.

There’s a trailer for anyone interested after the cut.

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