A & E

A hauntingly beautiful French love story

French Love Story

Sometimes love can slip through the fingers, but those fingers will feel the pain for a long time after love gets away. This handicap is particularly difficult for a gifted violinist.

Is suffering necessary to create extraordinary arts?

That’s one of the themes examined in Chicken with Plums, a searingly beautiful film from Iranian-born director Marjane Satrapi and her co-director, French-born Vincent Paronnaud. The film, in French with subtitles, is based on Satrapi’s graphic novel, Persepolis. The two collaborated to make the novel into an animated feature, the first of a trilogy. The transition to live action with touches of fantasy and German Expressionism is more than successful — it’s hypnotic, both heart-rending, and at times, comic. Yes, like real life.

Once in a while, there is a film that stands out as truly original. This is it. The story takes place in 1958 Tehran. Nasser Ali Khan (played marvelously melancholically by Mathieu Amalric) is a famous violinist whose priceless instrument is smashed during an argument with his wife. Nasser Ali makes up his mind: Without his violin, he will die. The film reviews the eight days preceding his demise.

A lot of memories can be evoked in eight days. Isabella Rossellini, in a small role, almost steals the show, but everyone is terrific. There are rare moments when a movie can change your life. This might be one of them.

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