A celebration of womanhood, immigrants, and mother-daughter relationships are the main themes in writer / director Maryam Keshavarz‘s “The Persian Version,” a vibrant, sassy, and smart film about the way our families can not only shape and define us, but also tear us apart. With candy-colored cinematography, a perceptive sense of humor, and lively dance numbers, this original film is a fun romp about complicated family dynamics and the satisfaction that comes from always staying true to yourself.
Leila (Layla Mohammadi) is an Iranian-American who is torn between two cultures. She comes from a large family full of overprotective brothers and deals with a sharp-tongued mother Shirin (Niousha Noor) who is always quick to criticize. With her father recovering from a heart transplant, Leila returns to be with the family. This causes inevitable clashes with Shirin, especially because she’s unhappy and ashamed that her daughter is a lesbian. But when a family secret is revealed, it helps Leila understand her mother much better, bridging the gap between them.
Keshavarz’s queer-positive story about strong women and learning to understand different generations and cultures is personal and feels like it, which lends an effective authenticity to the film. The storytelling is breezy and appealing, and there isn’t much that’s too challenging here. Utilizing retro flashbacks to the 1980s and a lead character that breaks the fourth wall, the film is charming and universally accessible.
Keshavarz makes the most of the very true idea that “it’s easier to blame our mothers” for our own shortcomings and failures in life, and Leila eventually begins to overlook her mother’s faults, actually admire her sacrifices, and respect her determination and work ethic. It’s a lovely parallel between mother and daughter, and “The Persian Version” is a charming film about two very strong and confident women.
By: Louisa Moore