The Persian Version

English, Persian

Leila comes from a large Iranian-American family, and she doesn’t quite know how to feel about it. She doesn’t feel Iranian enough for Iran, nor does she feel quite American enough. Her parents treat her as the black sheep of her siblings (she is the only daughter, and that comes with high expectations, which she never seems to meet), and her filmmaking career and her love life seem to be collapsing around her. As Leila’s brother’s wedding approaches, she is forced to deal with a myriad of personal crises, including a surprise pregnancy, her father’s emergency heart transplant, and the discovery of a deeply hidden family secret.

This irreverent and joyous comedy was the recipient of the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival this year. In a festival packed with crowdpleasers, this is one that will stand above the rest, which will make you laugh, cry, and feel amazed by the strength and resilience of immigrant women. As a semi-autobiographical film, you can feel the honesty and the reality in every scene and every moment. It’s like the director is using this film as a form of therapy, and we, the audience, are her therapists as she tells us all about her crazy, messed up family, her traumas, and the events that made her who she is.

This is a film for all mothers and daughters. A story about the complexities (and oftentimes, the volatility) of that relationship. As Leila digs deeper into her mother’s story, something universal is discovered. None of us truly know our parents’ full stories. It is hard to fully grasp who our parents were before we were born, and the sacrifices they made to get us here. As we grow older, we may come to understand the choices that they made, and we will hopefully grow to appreciate the challenges and adversity that they overcame in the process. Maryam Keshavarz’s film is a celebration of family, an ode to motherhood, and a truly moving piece of work.