November 17, 2010

Justify My Netflix: Persepolis

(Like many Netflix customers, I too can get quite lax with the timely watching and returning of my movies, which of course defeats the entire purpose of having a flat-rate rental plan in the first place. To combat that, I am now writing standardized mini-reviews of each and every movie I end up watching through Netflix, both instantly and on DVD. Don't forget, all previous 'Justify My Netflix' reviews can be found on CCLaP's main movie page.)

Persepolis (movie)

Today's movie: Persepolis, 2007 (Amazon | IMDB | Netflix | Wikipedia)

Why I added it to my queue: Because I was a big fan of the graphic novel this was based on, when first reading it last year, which for those who don't know is basically an autobiographical coming-of-age tale from well-regarded French underground cartoonist Marjane Satrapi, about growing up as a feisty feminist punk-rocker in the middle of Iran's Islamic Revolution of the late '70s and early '80s.

The reality: Well, I can certainly see how this sleeper hit and Oscar nominee could really floor you if you're not familiar already with the books; but if you are, like me you're bound to see this film version as just the slightest bit disappointing, in that it covers only one half of the graphic novel and really is nothing special apart from the book itself, just literally animated versions of what's already in the static edition. But that said, you should definitely check out this movie if you never have come across the books before, because Satrapi has a real gift at telling a silly, personal and moving story all at the same time, a document which may accidentally very well turn out in the future to be seen as one of the biggest first projects of the 21st century to really start bridging the gap between Western and Eastern cultures. That's pretty remarkable, given that at one point in her teens, Satrapi was a homeless gutter punk on the streets of Vienna, estranged from her family, country, and most of polite society in general; for her to come back from that to become one of the foremost artistic examiners of modern international culture says something important, I think, about the continual maturation of the graphic novel as a legitimate adult storytelling format. This movie version is perfect for those who still aren't comfortable carrying around a comic book in public, as well as those who want to skip Satrapi's recollections of being a sullen, chain-smoking teen in central Europe; otherwise, though, I recommend the much more expansive book version. In any case, definitely check out this remarkable story in one form or another as soon as you have the chance.

Strangest piece of trivia: The Iranian government tried to stop France from entering this film into Oscar contention.

Worth your time? Yes

Filed by Jason Pettus at 9:53 AM, November 17, 2010. Filed under: Movies | Reviews |