The Reel Review
A young Iranian-American lesbian’s contentious relationship with her estranged mother gains new perspective when she learns the secret about why her family moved from Iran to America prior to her birth. Layla Mohammedi (Special Ops: Lioness) and Niousha Noor star in this romantic dramedy.
Writer/director Maryam Keshavarz’s very personal film is a love letter to the sometimes-complicated relationships between mothers and daughters. About halfway through, the initially quirky comedy shifts gears, as the film explores the hardships and challenges Leila’s mother Shireen faced in making a life for herself and her family in both Iran and the U.S.
Both leads do an excellent job capturing the at times contentious relationship and generational gap between controlling mothers and rebellious daughters, with Noor, in particular, giving a breakout performance as the tough-as-nails mother who defies the traditional role of women in Muslim society. The breaking of the fourth wall and some of the comedy, while cute, is at times a bit twee. But Keshavarz ends her film with an unexpected and absolutely beautiful bow that will likely leave you sobbing through the closing credits.
• The Persian Version won two awards at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival – the Audience Award and the Waldo Scott Screenwriting Award.
• Filmmaker Maryam Keshavarz, who is bisexual and has a daughter, also won the Audience Award for her feature film debut, 2011’s Circumstance, which explores homosexuality in Iran.
• After several years of work in television, Iranian-born Niousha Noor made her film debut in the 2020 psychological thriller, The Night.