THE PERSIAN VERSION – Review by Sherin Nicole

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While watching The Persian Version I was reminded of a song lyric. “What I need from you is understanding.” That is the core of the film, the idea that if we understood our parents, we might understand how they raised us better. If we connect with the culture of our ancestral homes, we might better perceive the ways we fight against and fight to incorporate our “Americaness.” Maryam Keshavarz’s film is a Persian story, it is an American story, and it’s an Iranian-American story; it is queer and it is about generations of women. Those hyphenates—that multiplicity is where we, the children of immigrants, find ourselves. Keshavarz has made a comical, raw, and personal story that is universal because it is so specific. In The Persian Version a gay New Yorker and filmmaker, Leila (Layla Mohammadi) seeks to define herself within the confines of her large (mostly male) Persian family; without being blurred out by it. The central relationship and the conflict is between Leila and her mother, Shireen (my namesake), played with cutting nuance by Niousha Noor. Shireen reacts to Leila’s sexuality with numb coldness, often pushing her daughter away with exclusory language. This is exacerbated when Leila’s freeform lifestyle results in a pregnancy by an actor in drag (Hedwig to be exact). That’s when it happens. One scandal leads to another and Leila learns that while her mother didn’t treat her right, it came from a lineage of trauma that once spoken aloud might heal them both.

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Sherin Nicole

Sherin Nicole writes about film and produces content for geeks and nerds alike on Geek Girl Riot.