The astonishment upon meeting “Persepolis” writer and co-director Marjane Satrapi isn’t discovering that she’s smart, funny, charming, beautiful, worldly, articulate and principled.
Indeed, you can glean all that and more from her animated, autobiographical movie opening Friday at the Uptown Theatre. Like the acclaimed graphic novels that preceded it, “Persepolis” draws the comic, humanist and hormonal details of Satrapi’s experience growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. (The film’s title comes from Persepolis, the ancient city in Persia sacked by Alexander the Great.)
No wonder that Satrapi — born in Iran, educated in Vienna, awarded in Cannes, now living in Paris and married to a Swede — is cool. But what we might call “the Satrapi surprise” is her ardor for a Minneapolitan classic that is, of course, really hot.
“I love the Jucy Lucy burger, I have to tell you,” Satrapi exclaims midway through our recent chat in the St. Paul Hotel lobby.
“The first time I came here, the [cab driver] told me, ‘Oh, I will bring you to a French restaurant.’ And I was like, ‘No, I’m here to eat what you eat. So what do you eat?’ And he was like, ‘Well, there’s something here, it’s kind of greasy, but [it’s] the Jucy Lucy burger.’ I was here three days. For three days, lunch and dinner, I had the Jucy Lucy burger. I tried to make one in France. All my friends in France know the Jucy Lucy burger of Minneapolis.
No offense whatsoever to Matt’s Bar, whose cheese-stuffed Jucy Lucy is, you know, smart, funny, charming, beautiful, etc. But, in keeping with the geopolitical scope of Satrapi’s unsentimentally pacifist film, this story is about more than just a cheeseburger in paradise.
“If I know one guy from Minneapolis, and there’s a war in Minneapolis, then it becomes my war,” says Satrapi, who, not incidentally, speaks six languages. “If somebody attacks America, I’m with America. If somebody attacks England, I am with England. If somebody attacks France, I am with France. If somebody attacks Iran, I am with Iran. Because, in all these places, I know people. So if there’s a bomb, it’s going to be for my friends. And my friends have other friends — who have other friends.”