Jul 22, 2007


O Joy: At the Quai de Seine movie theaters they have a little boat that takes you from one side of the canal to the other, as the two cineplexes face each other across the lovely canal. Nothing could make me happier than to arrive at the cinema on a boat. Nothing.
We went to see Persepolis, the animated version of the graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi. Although we saw it in French sans subtitles, we loved it. Animated films usually do not withstand long narratives. This one is in black and white and lasts about an hour and forty minutes and it's never boring, because it tells a great story very intelligently and eloquently. It is beautifully animated, very funny and splendidly acted by the voices of Chiara Mastroianni, her mom Catherine Deneuve, and Danielle Darrieux, among others. I'm really happy I saw it because I am not a fan of graphic novels and I would have missed Persepolis if it weren't for the movie. Also a first: it is by a woman, with wonderful female central characters, who are smart and strong and complex in their humanity and thist is such a breath of fresh air, after all the boy-induced mayhem of animation, that you feel like you are breathing pure oxygen from the Swiss Alps, if you will forgive the awful metaphor.
Satrapi's style is extraordinarily simple, yet visually gorgeous and amazingly expressive; it has none of the useless bombast and pyrotechnics of the frantic animated craziness from Pixar and Disney, which is super well done, but disguises the lack of an interesting story with too much going on. Persepolis has done incredibly well in France for an animated film of this sort, which is not for children. I hope, though I doubt it, because of the subject matter and the subtlety, that it will do equally well in the States. However, in case this last statement gives our audiences a bad case of the rash, let me qualify it by saying the magic word that always soothes their fears: Persepolis is very entertaining. Voila! You can see it now.

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