Iranian life in cartoon motion: Persepolis

The black-and-white animated film Persepolis begins with a young Iranian woman wandering and waiting, somewhat ambiguously, around an airport. Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud, who co-wrote and co-directed this adaptation of Satrapi’s two autobiographical graphic novels, don’t signal their intentions right away. From time to time, they return to these airport scenes (the only ones that are in color) as the woman — a version of Satrapi — waits and chain-smokes and (most of all) remembers.

And what memories she has. This kaleidoscopically conceived movie, which encompasses a range of moods and tones from amusing to tragic and back again, serves as a coming-of-age story, a history of 20th-century Iran and, above all, as a comedy of the absolute highest order.

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