It’s hard to find a film that could make me feel more ignorant than a French-Iranian film that’s based on a comic I’ve never read and set in a context that’s both before my time and on the other side of the planet. However, what makes me appreciate this film so much is that I don’t need to have a full understanding of this context in order to enjoy it. Since it’s the story of a girl growing up during the ’70s and ’80s in Iran (and partially in France), it might sound like it would be intangible to an American audience, but this film sort of seems to take advantage of western ignorance by showing this history entirely from the perspective of a young girl. She becomes a channel for experiencing a piece of this world during this time period, and that’s what makes it so interesting.
The writer/director team of Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud (the former having written the aforementioned comic based on her own life) have amazing talent for handling serious, unsettling, or adult matters in a way that’s easy to digest. The unique animation style makes it a pleasure to view, and some of the music that’s featured and/or mentioned adds to the fun. The most notable music sequence in the film is something I would not want to spoil, but I must say that it’s amazing how they reworked what feels like a very cliche kind of scene (I mean, this song has been used for this sort of montage dozens upon dozens of times) into something anyone would adore is truly remarkable. While I’m not the type to enjoy a story that doesn’t really build to any particular resolution of a main conflict, I do think this film stays just focused enough that the likability of the characters keeps me as invested as I need to be to thoroughly enjoy it. The story does seem to lack an ending, but since it’s based on real life and has no historical basis for an ending, I won’t deduct any points given the fact that all the good content they packed into the 95 minutes makes it a good story anyway. Perhaps the most impressive thing about it is how universally enjoyable it is. I can’t recommend this film to absolutely everyone, but I would have to recommend it to most, because it’s clear that this is one story that was handled with care, and it’s a delight.