“The Persian Version” is a festive frolic of fun wrapped up in an independently released movie. The Writer and Director is the daughter of an immigrant family from Iran, who has created a humorous movie about the daughter of an immigrant family from Iran. But the fun visual style and impressive camera work might make her the ‘Persian Version’ of Wes Anderson.
The only daughter of the Iranian immigrant parents is named Leila (played by Layla Mohammadi), and she torn between two countries. She has grown up in the US, and many memories of going back to Iran for extended periods.
She is rebellious and strong-willed, especially when she is at odds with her mother. Her dad, Ali Reza Jamshidpours (played by Bijan Daneshmand), is a doctor with a heart condition. He has been unable to work full-time for years. So, that leaves it up to her mom – Shireen (played by Niousha Noor) – to be the one in charge.
Shireen had become the head of the house and the bread winner. She struggled to earn her GED so she could get into Realtor school. She struggled to finish Realtor school, but got a job with a nice Real Estate office. She became the leading salesperson in that office. Why? Because she catered to a group that she knew quite well – refugees and immigrants looking for a new home.
Leila is the only girl, but she has eight older brothers. She was always headstrong and a rule-breaker. She came out as being gay, and she had a close relationship with her girlfriend. But then Leila said and did the wrong things and lost that love.
Bouncing back from a heartache, she attends a party and meets a man, dressed as a woman. This is Max (played by Tom Byrne) who is an actor in a Broadway play called “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”. He explains that this is just his stage costume. But Leila is smitten and they have a one-night stand.
Leila has some many issues with her mother Shireen already. But she just added a brand new one. Leila, who is gay, is now pregnant with Max. This comes at the time that her dad Ali Reza is about to go in for heart surgery. It is lot to take in, and Leila is stressed. Shireen is stressed. But so far, Max is still chill. He has promised to do all he can to support Leila. But she is very independent and does not know what kind of support she might want or need.
When Leila is at home watching over her grandmother Mamanjoon (played by Bella Warda), she gets the background of Shireen and Ali Reza and why they had to leave Iran. There was some type of ‘scandal’ that caused them to feel like outcasts.
It was a time when Ali Reza has just graduated from medical school. He went to a very remote village in the country. He meets a very young teenage Shireen (played by Kamand Shafieisabet). It is a difficult life in the rural setting. Local customs allowed for a second wife. This almost leads to the village almost going ‘full Tarantino’ on the young couple. So it best to leave…
Shireen does not want to talk about any sad events in the past, so she will not tell Leila anything more. Her father is in the hospital and in no condition to relive old memories. Leila, as a budding screenwriter and director, decides to turn this story into her debut feature.
She gets a supportive hand from Max, who has come into the Jamshidpours family. He is invited over for family dinners and such. The youngest son is about to get married. So, Shireen is thrown into the chore of holding a traditional Persian Wedding.
Leila has gotten to know much more about her mom Shireen. They had a strained relationship, but now Leila has much more respect for her. The pregnancy has changed here mind about a lot of things, and she actually finds Tom’s help quite comforting. The night of the big, fat, Persian Wedding — of course that is also when the baby decides to join in with all the fun.
“The Persian Version” is a heart-felt story that is a testament to strong woman everywhere. It especially gives praises to immigrant mothers who have to struggle with being in a new country. Maryam Keshavarz has a good eye to get a festive visual display in the movie. Also, she has a keen sense of dialog and story. This movie has the style and flair that could rival Wes Anderson.
Layla Mohammadi, who plays Leila, makes the screen her own when she in the frame. She is rivaled only Niousha Noor (playing Shireen). These two can play off each other in quite a humorous fashion. This is a story setup seen quite a few times. Think of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”, or even “Everthing, Everwhere, All At Once”. Rebellious daughter of an old-time traditional immigrant mother is nothing new. But when that idea is used here, it seems fresh.
But Maryam Keshavarz has taken that starring point and put so many unique spins on the movie, it could make your head twirl like a dervish. There are constant uses of voice-over, freeze-frames, and fourth-wall breaks. But these are used to enhance and further the story. With a lesser talent, these might make the movie awkward and repetitive.
“The Persian Version” makes it clear that talent and style can cross many cultures and societies. This movie uses an immigrant family with internal squabbles to show how much we are really all alike.
The Persian Version
Written and Directed by: Maryam Keshavarz
Starring: Layla Mohammadi, Niousha Noor, Bijan Daneshmand, Bella Warda, Tom Byrne
Cinematography: André Jäger
Edited by: Abolfazl Talooni, JoAnne Yarrow
Music by: Rostam Batmanglij
Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics, Stage 6 Films
Release date: October 20, 2023
Length: 107 minutes
MPAA rating: R for language and some sexual references