The Persian Version

This cute Iranian-American comedy gets deported by its many plot elements.

“The Persian Version” has the right to represent its Iranian culture to an American audience, especially when it’s narrative and young heroine explain how their values work. It chooses to be respectful on both sides of the equation, as in America, her family is judged, while in Iran, her family is still judged. So, it’s a mixed bag for them to live in both places in different time periods.

But the movie ends up being a missed opportunity, because of how it crams all plot points into a 100 minute movie, and ends up being a bit unfocused. Or maybe I ended up being unfocused by how the story plays out. Too much happens in the film for my mind to process.

We meet the ambitious young filmmaker Lelia (Layla Mohammad), who was born in Iran and raised in America with eight brothers in the mix. Brooklyn to be exact. She was engaged to Elena (Mia Foo), until her selfishness and homophobic mother Shirleen (Niousha Noor) damage that. In fact, the old lady boots her out of their home when she brings her girlfriend to Thanksgiving dinner.

We see flashbacks on how her mother transcended from a struggling mother to a successful businesswoman, all in the process of trying to afford to give her husband a heart transplant, which she succeeds.

Shirleen ends up pregnant after a one-night stand with Maximilian Balthazar (Tom Byrne from “The Crown”), the latest stage star of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” who isn’t gay, for the record. In fact, he’d like to try to pursue a relationship with Shirleen.

And above all, her grandmother Mamanjoon (Bella Warda), who tries to be her daughter and granddaughter’s voice of reasoning, admits about a scandal within the family, but falls asleep before she can explain. Now, the young woman is trying to make sense out of it all. Why did they really stay in America?

“The Persian Version” is cute with Mohammad having the X factor to tell audiences how her character’s life in both countries have their ups and downs, and she is able to express her womanhood. And she is able to stand up to her mother, nicely played by Noor.

But her family history seems jammed in a short time frame, and it ends up losing our interests in her current life in America. How she works on her screenplay, how she can’t get back with her girlfriend, and how her mother needs to apologize to her for how she treated her.

You know what? Let me explain to you how a nice guy like me can feel pressured by arguments. And I don’t care what you think, because I am here to express my opinions. People have the right to express their problems. And sometimes when movies get indulged in them, they make me want to get into arguments with other people. But I haven’t and I don’t want to do that. Negativity, negativity, negativity. It’s always with the negativity. Please cut me some slack.

Sorry about that. I didn’t mean to rant. But thankfully, certain arguments don’t last long. They like to change the subject and that’s a good thing. There are good qualities in the film, like how the grandma tries to be the voice of reasoning and The Byrne character looking like a young Hugh Grant, but there are also times when I feel the script could have been well balanced. Writer/director Maryam Keshavarz has some spontaneous energy with her characters, humor, and heart, but lacks the kind of patience to tell the young lady’s family history.

Rating: 2.5 out of 4.

This article was written by me with full support of the SAG-AFTRA strike.

Categories: comedy, Drama, Romance

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