Amazon Prime Video film review: Persepolis
Ivan Radford | On 04, Mar 2016
Director: Vincent Paronnaud, Marjane Satrapi
Cast: Chiara Mastroianni, Catherine Deneuve, Sean Penn, Iggy Pop
Watch Persepolis online in the UK: Amazon Prime Video
Related in a stark monochrome flashback, Marjane’s story is a familiar coming-of-age tale. But look closer and there’s more than meets the eye; subtly distilling a complex political struggle through a child’s eyes, Marjane’s life straddles Iran and France, her life torn apart by the uprising against the oppression of the Shah.
At first young and carefree, she runs around pretending to be Bruce Lee, listening to bootleg Bee Gees. But when her eyes are opened by her father (voiced in the UK by Penn) and her imprisoned uncle (Iggy Pop), she supports the revolution with childlike verve. Leading to increased fascist rule, the harsh times turn Marjane to Iron Maiden, eventually causing her parents to send her to French boarding school.
Supposedly safe abroad, she fails to adapt to the new culture, shunted from one house to another. An outsider in exile from her blood-strewn home, she relies on her self-belief and wit to survive. And so she becomes increasingly like her grandmother, grappling with the pain of love and the unfair subjection of women, often with hilarious results – when a patrol stops her from running, labelling it “immodest”, she turns and shouts “Then stop looking at my butt!”
Nominated for an Oscar against a Pixar-produced flock of CGI rats, Persepolis perhaps appeared simple to Academy voters. But where Oscar-winner Ratatouille was hollow beneath its glossy, furry façade, this animated film is deliciously complex. Layering 2D objects like a primary school collage, it brings to life the still frames of Marjane Sartrapi’s autobio-graphic-novels with an elegant hand-drawn flourish. Cross-hatching and smudging the minutest of details, the images capture her perspective with heartfelt candour. The cast may have been changed for the international release, but the story is still the same: sad, poetic and truthful.
Persepolis is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.