an eight day period, Nasser-Ali Khan will become the anti-Scherezade. As he wills himself to die, stories from his
past, narrated by the Angel of Death, will explain how the musician reached
such a state of profound melancholy.
Love and death become intimately intertwined in Marjane Satrapi &
Vincent Paronnaud’s Chicken with Plums (trailer here), their
fantastical but sophisticated live-action follow-up to the rightly acclaimed Persepolis, which opens tomorrow in New
is widely regarded as the greatest Iranian violinist of his generation, but he
has stopped playing. On the surface, his
silence appears to be the fault of his wife Faringuisse, who destroyed his
prized violin during one of their frequent squabbles. However, his depression is really the result
of an elegantly tragic tale of love denied.
proficient but never impassioned, Khan’s music took on uncommon richness after
he was forbidden from seeing his true soul-mate Irâne, the traditional
clockmaker’s daughter. Music never has
been considered a stable profession by protective fathers. As Khan’s reputation rises, he acquiesces to
his controlling mother’s wishes and marries Faringuisse. For him, it is a
loveless union. For her, it is a
marriage based on unrequited love.
Khan is a crummy husband and a negligent father, but it is difficult to condemn
him after witnessing his compounded heartaches.
Mathieu Amalric, with his big sad eyes, is perfectly cast as the
exquisitely sensitive jerkweed. Viewers
will sympathize with him, even as they shake their heads at his casual cruelty
to Faringuisse. Likewise only more so,
Maria de Medeiros (Bruce Willis’s girlfriend in Pulp Fiction) explodes the harpy exterior of his nagging wife,
revealing the pain and vulnerability of Faringuisse.
in the late 1950’s pre-Shah, Western-leaning Iran, Satrapi and Paronnaud’s
fable of star-crossed love would seem to hold limited political
ramifications. However, it is not an
accident Khan’s forbidden love is named Irâne (as they confirmed in a
post-screening Tribeca Q&A). That
she is played by Golshifteh Farahani is also clearly significant. The internationally acclaimed actress was
barred from returning to Iran after (tastefully) posing nude in a French
magazine to protest the Islamist regime’s misogynist policies. A radiantly beautiful woman, she also invests
her character (and the film) with a graceful sadness.
is also quite arresting, incorporating brief animated interludes (evoking
its graphic novel source), expressionistic sets, and highly stylized design
elements. Their inspired technical team
definitely creates a seductive atmosphere of magical realism that is a pleasure
to get caught up in. Highly recommended,
Chicken with Plums opens tomorrow
(8/17) in New York at the Angelika Film Center.
Labels: French Cinema, Golshifteh Farahani, Marjane Satrapi, Mathieu Almaric