A clash of cultures is always ripe for comedy and drama. The Persian Version is about an Iranian-American lesbian who gets pregnant by a drag queen, an entertaining premise that isn’t quite as unconventional as it thinks it is.
Layla Mohammadi stars as Leila, the lesbian in question who discovers one-time penis penetration can indeed lead to nine months of misery and a little bundle of screaming joy. She bucks tradition and is constantly at odds with her more conservative mother, but her new secret leads to a greater understanding of her mom’s past.
Written and directed by Maryam Keshavarz, The Persian Version cleverly blends comedy and drama, though much of the spunk found early in the movie dissipates as the story progresses. It’s not a bad transition–what the movie turns into is somewhat powerful, or at least moving–but it’s a shame the story and characters don’t stay as vibrant and unpredictable as they begin.
The story, which is semi-autobiographical, is of course very personal to Keshavarz. It pains me to say that the film’s third act, which takes place largely in the past, almost feels as if we’ve seen it before. It flows almost exactly how you would expect it to. Thankfully, Keshavarz executes this exploration of the past with love and skill.
The cast helps, too. Mohammadi is sensational; I could watch her, and her character, in a dozen more films. Niousha Noor is terrific as well, and the film is littered with other fantastic character actors.
The Persian Version may not end as creatively as it begins, but it’s an entertaining and moving comedy-drama that’s worth checking out. At the very least, it cements Maryam Keshavarz as a filmmaker to watch.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.