A young girl, Marjane Satrapi (voice of Gabrielle Lopes), grew up in Tehran at the time when the Shah ruled Iran and a kid could be a kid. It is 1978, however, and the tide has turned against royal rule as the people take to the streets to overthrow the Shah’s government. Instead of democratic rule, the country is plunged into a civil war and young Marji’s life will forever change in “Persepolis.”
Laura's Review: A
Marjane Satrapi was a tomboy in 1980's Iran, beating up boys and dancing in sneakers to pop records in her Bruce Lee-postered bedroom. Her happy lifestyle would undergo a dramatic change when Islamic revolution takes hold and her freedoms are curtailed. A loving family sends the teenaged Marji to Vienna for a European vacation, but life in democracy poses different challenges and the young girl yearns for the ancient heritage of "Persepolis." Writer/directors Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi have adapted an autobiographical graphic novel into a magical animation, one that presents a universal coming of age story within exotic locales with the simplicity and whimsy of folk art. This is a charmed film, one in which every production choice, from animation to voice casting to the black and white/color art direction is note perfect. Marjane 'Marji' Satrapi (voice of Deneuve's daughter, Chiara Mastroianni, as an adult, Gabrielle Lopes as a child) is introduced as an adult, in color, in a Parisian airport grimly awaiting a flight to Tehran, then tone changes completely when we're flashed back to black and white 1978 where Marjane as a child exhibits a comical personality. The child is enveloped by an exasperated yet loving mother (voice of Catherine Deneuve), an understanding, sensible father (voice of Simon Abkarian, "Yes") and a doting grandmother (voice of Danielle Darrieux, "8 Women"). When the revolution begins, at first the tales of torture and rebellion overheard during adult visits seem exciting and Marji throws her black and white idealism in with the revolutionaries, but her world turns gray when her political education begins. Satrapi educates her audience as well, delivering a historical catchup on ancient Persia via a stylish 'paper' marionette play, and showing her current day in incidents far reaching (children encouraged to martyrdom by clearing minefields) and personal (morality police chiding women for improper dress). The young woman sent to Vienna discovers that freedom entails harsh economics and that the friends one chooses influences one's values. And then there are boys. And that last is one of the elements that makes Satrapi's story so utterly riveting and even entertaining - throughout there is a perfect balance of individual experience, universal recognition, and reverberating political upheaval. It's genius storytelling that describes devastating facts in one scene and has a laugh on itself the next. In addition to the tale we are told, there are the remarkable visuals used to tell it. The animation is simple in rendering people, but landscapes are often elaborate and the overall effect is striking. It is the best animation work of the year. Vocal performances (there is presumably an English language version of "Persepolis," but the original French language version is being reviewed) are all wonderful, with Darrieux creating one of the most sublime matriarchs in cinema history. Along with Julie Gavras's "Blame It on Fidel," France has given us two unique portraits of political revolution through the eyes of a young girl this year. They'd make a great double bill, but as fine a film as Gavras's is, "Persepolis" is the more audacious artwork.
Robin's Review: D+
Like most, if not all, film critics, I take notes when watching a movie to review. Generally, the notes are about plot lines, characters, locations and the look and tone as reminders for later. Sometimes, though rarely, I make editorial notes about a film’s premise (generally bad) and things that do not make sense or are unrealistic. I made a lot of editorial notes while watching “Permission.” The first thing about a film about relationships is that the viewer should actually care about the lead characters – a factor that is sorely absent in this second feature by writer-director Brian Crano. I was going to spend time on the story and its plot threads but, the more I think about it, why should I bother? I neither liked nor believed the main characters, their actions and motivations. Will and Anna make decisions that I, immediately, knew were bad and wondered why they would behave so, well, stupidly. For this, I blame the script by director Crano. I have always respected Rebecca Hall as an actress of note and Dan Stevens has proved his abilities beyond “Downton Abbey.” But, in “Permission,” there is no chemistry between their characters and the life decisions they make are more adolescent than adult. I do like Morgan Spector as Will’s best friend, Reece, the only character with a voice of reason. I want to like or, at least, be positive about every film I see. I cannot do that here.