The Persian Version Review

Featuring: Layla Mohammadi, Niousha Noor, Kamand Shafieisabet, Bijan Daneshmand, Bella Warda, Chiara Stella, Tom Byrne, Shervin Alenabi

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Director: Maryam Keshavarz

In Cinemas: 22nd March 2024


Coming from two countries at odds with each other, Iranian-American Leila (Layla Mohammadi) strives to find balance and embrace her opposing cultures while boldly challenging the labels society quickly projects upon her. When her family reunites in New York City for her father’s heart transplant, Leila navigates her relationships from arm’s length to keep her “real” life separate from her family life. However, when her secret is unceremoniously revealed, so are the parallels between her life and that of her mother, Shireen (Niousha Noor). Punctuated by a bright colour palette, snappy comedic relief, and vibrant dance numbers, THE PERSIAN VERSION delivers an honest portrayal of a woman who remains unapologetically herself, blended seamlessly into a heartfelt story about family, belonging, and the undeniable influence of pop music.


“The Persian Version,” directed by Maryam Keshavarz and starring Layla Mohammadi as the main character, Leila, offers a nuanced exploration of cultural identity and the contrast between Iranian and American traditions and culture. Winner of the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival in 2023, the film provides a beautiful representation of Iran while delving into the complexities of belonging and self-discovery. At the film’s heart, Leila is a young Iranian-American woman grappling with her dual identity. Mohammadi delivers a compelling performance, capturing Leila’s internal struggle with authenticity and belonging. As she navigates the contrasting worlds of her Iranian heritage and American upbringing, Leila is a relatable protagonist for audiences who may have experienced similar cultural conflicts. Keshavarz skillfully juxtaposes Iranian and American traditions and culture throughout the film, highlighting the tensions and similarities between the two. From family gatherings and religious rituals to everyday interactions and social norms, viewers are immersed in the rich tapestry of Iranian life. The contrast between Leila’s experiences in Iran and her life in America is a poignant reminder of the complexities of cultural identity and how it shapes individual perspectives.


One of the film’s standout features is its beautiful representation of Iran. Through stunning cinematography and meticulous attention to detail, Keshavarz brings the country to life on the screen, showcasing its vibrant cultural heritage. In addition to its visual beauty, “The Persian Version” also explores contemporary Iran’s political and social realities. From the impact of economic sanctions to the restrictions on personal freedoms, the film offers a nuanced portrayal of life in a country grappling with internal and external pressures. Through Leila’s eyes, audiences gain insight into the complexities of Iranian society and the resilience of its people in the face of adversity. While the film excels in portraying cultural identity and the beauty of Iran, it has flaws. Some viewers may find the pacing uneven, with certain scenes dragging on longer than necessary.


Additionally, the narrative occasionally feels disjointed, with abrupt shifts in tone and pacing that may leave audiences disoriented. Despite these shortcomings, “The Persian Version” remains a thought-provoking and visually stunning film that explores cultural identity and the clash between tradition and modernity. Layla Mohammadi’s compelling performance, combined with Keshavarz’s skilled direction and the film’s breathtaking cinematography, make it a worthy addition to the canon of contemporary Iranian cinema. In conclusion, “The Persian Version” is an average film that shines in its portrayal of cultural identity and the beauty of Iran. While it may not be without its flaws, it offers a compelling and visually captivating viewing experience that will resonate with audiences worldwide. Whether you’re drawn to its exploration of cultural themes or appreciate its stunning cinematography, “The Persian Version” is worth watching for anyone interested in contemporary Iranian cinema.

Overall: 6/10

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