The review of The Persian Version is a charming comedy that follows an Iranian-American family.

The review of The Persian Version is a charming comedy that follows an Iranian-American family.


Energetic, humorous, and unapologetically heartfelt, this heartwarming comedy is written and directed by Iranian-American filmmaker Maryam Keshavarz. While the semi-autobiographical tale about a traditional Iranian family living in New Jersey may feel somewhat familiar from previous films about second-generation struggles, Keshavarz infuses it with enough charm and feel-good moments to make it an enjoyable viewing experience. Though some of the jokes may seem better suited for a TV sitcom, overall it is a delightful film.

In the 2000s, the city of New York is the backdrop for the story of Leila, a young filmmaker in her 20s. She attends a Halloween party dressed in a unique “burqa-kini” outfit- a face-covering niqab on top and a bright neon bikini on the bottom, complete with beautiful eyeliner. Despite being a lesbian, Leila has a one night stand with a man dressed in drag, Tom Byrne, at the party and ends up pregnant. Through flashbacks set in the 1980s, we see a young and clever Leila as the youngest of nine siblings, struggling to find her place and establish her identity. Her experiences are narrated through her voiceover, which can be a bit excessive at times. In present day, Leila, now an adult, has a strained relationship with her mother Shireen (Niousha Noor), who is determined to uphold their Iranian cultural traditions. Shireen refuses to accept that her daughter is gay, believing that Leila is intentionally trying to hurt her.

The Persian Version has a slightly soft focus in some parts, but gains depth and power when the narrative switches back to 1960s Iran. Here, we meet Shireen, a 13-year-old girl (now portrayed by Kamand Shafieisabet) who takes control of the voiceover to share her own story. She was married at a young age to a 22-year-old doctor and soon became pregnant. The real reason for their migration to the US is revealed, which is far from the approved version told by their family. Overall, the film captures a heartfelt story that is endearing and easy to connect with. The filming was completed just a few weeks before the protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, who was arrested for breaking Iran’s dress code. The dedication of the film is to all the brave Iranian women.