‘Plums’ up for Marjane Satrapi

Courtesy PhotoSatiating journey: The magical “Chicken With Plums” tells the tale of a dying man (Mathieu Amalric) in scenes from his past — and future — life.

Courtesy PhotoSatiating journey: The magical “Chicken With Plums” tells the tale of a dying man (Mathieu Amalric) in scenes from his past — and future — life.

Marjane Satrapi already has documented her incredible life story about her escape from Iran, schooling in Vienna and subsequent life in Paris in the graphic novel and animated movie “Persepolis.”

Now, in her wonderful second feature film “Chicken with Plums,” opening this week, she turns to other matters: life, love and food.

In the film, violinist Nasser Ali Khan — whose favorite dish is chicken with plums — decides to die.

Where: Make-Out Room, 3225 22nd St., S.F. When: 7:30 p.m. Friday Tickets: $8 Contact: (415) 647-2888, www.makeoutroom.com

From his deathbed, the film flashes back to Nasser Ali’s (Mathieu Amalric) passionate, tragic romance with lovely Irane (Golshifteh Farahani), and his unsatisfying marriage to the more practical but loving Faranguisse (Maria de Medeiros); it even flashes forward to the strange fates of their two children.

Satrapi, who visited The City earlier this year during the San Francisco International Film Festival, says, “In life you have different sources of pleasure: falling in love, making love, smoking, drinking, whatever. I can survive without smoking or making love. I would be miserable, but I would live. But if you don’t eat, when even this last pleasure is finished, that’s the end of life.”

“Chicken with Plums” spreads out luxuriously in many directions, with magical sequences, animation, comedy and more.

“Memories never come in a chronological way,” Satrapi says. “Some are minimalist and some come with lots of details. But a whole life is whatever we see and it’s also whatever we would not see, and what we will not see after our death.”

One major theme in the film is artistic balance. Nasser Ali isn’t a truly great violinist until after he falls in love with Irane, opens his heart for the first time, and loses her.

As someone who once slept on the streets, Satrapi knows that an artist must live something to express something. Unfortunately, in Nasser-Ali’s case, the pain totally encompasses him.

“If you have too much suffering, you don’t create. You just go to the mental hospital,” she says. “But at the same time, some days I wake up, and I feel very pretty and happy and the sun is shining. These are the days I don’t go to my studio.”

Yet Satrapi loves her character precisely for his weaknesses: “What really amazes me is that, despite everything, he’s capable of many beautiful things.”

Deeper artistic concerns aside, is chicken with plums a real dish? “Yes,” Satrapi says. “I do make it myself and it’s really tasty!”

artsChicken with PlumsentertainmentMarjane SatrapiMovies

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

A construction worker watches a load for a crane operator at the site of the future Chinatown Muni station for the Central Subway on Tuesday, March 3, 2021. (Sebastian Miño-Bucheli / Special to the S.F. Examiner)
Major construction on Central Subway to end by March 31

SFMTA board approves renegotiated contract with new deadline, more contractor payments

Neighbors and environmental advocates have found the Ferris wheel in Golden Gate Park noisy and inappropriate for its natural setting. <ins>(</ins>
Golden Gate Park wheel wins extension, but for how long?

Supervisors move to limit contract under City Charter provision requiring two-thirds approval

San Francisco school teachers and staff will be able to get vaccinations without delay with the recent distribution of priority codes. 
Shutterstock
SF distributes vaccine priority codes to city schools

San Francisco has received its first vaccine priority access codes from the… Continue reading

COVID restrictions have prompted a benefit or two, such as empty streets in The City. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Taking the scenic route through a pandemic

Streets of San Francisco are pleasantly free of traffic

Kelly Marie Tran and Awkwafina provide the voices of the title characters of “Raya and the Last Dragon.” <ins>(Courtesy Disney)</ins>
‘Raya and the Last Dragon’ boasts full-scale diversity

Though familiar in plot, Disney’s latest is buoyed by beauty, pride and power

Most Read