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Persian offers fun Version

Family dramady with a twist on rom-com combine for this year’s Sundance Film Festival audience award winner, The Persian Version. The story’s personal nature shouts itself as writer-director Maryam Keshavarz leads viewers through cross cultural situations that come from her own life. With actress Layla Mohammadi as a surrogate, Keshavarz takes a light-hearted look at the pressure and confusion that come from growing up among divergent cultural values. Having moved to the United States from Iran, the character Leila sets on her own path as a creative movie maker and partner in a gay relationship. Neither sits well with the rest of her family whose members include a dad with traditional values, a passel of brothers, and a mother who wants her daughter to find happiness by having a baby, one accompanied by a husband rather than wife. “I’m a lesbian, I can’t be pregnant” cries Leila, learning to her dismay after a hetero one-night stand that biology ignores such thoughts. Comedy and a warm-hearted message result, cleverly presented by Keshavarz, whose screenplay happily features extensive narration and characters who look brazenly at the camera to express their emotions. Unable to film in Iran, the filmmaker captures an appropriate look in Turkey, filling settings with brightly attired characters and including an exuberant dance moment to Cyndi Lauper’s song “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.Back in the U.S. Keshavarz captures parts of New York with an eye towards intensity, including a classic shot of the Empire State Building through the Brooklyn Bridge. And, sticking to her title, she adds a Persian version of the “Girls,” song sung by the movie’s mother, actress Niousha Noor. Girls succeed, and fun remains the operating mood for The Persian Version movie.

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