Satrapi notes, too, that her grandmother smoked and lived to age 92, which underscores an idea so redolent in her films: “Smoke isn’t just death,” she says. “To me, smoke is like life.”
Satrapi is a huge fan of “Casablanca” and “Chinatown,” and to her, smoke is also character. In “Chicken With Plums,” after one chain-smoking character dies, a revolving cloud of tobacco ether hovers over a grave like a beautiful life force, more alive than dead.
(Sarah L. Voisin/WASHINGTON POST) - Co-directors Marjane Satrapi, bottom, and Vincent Paronnaud won some acclaim a few years ago for their animated film, ‘Persepolis.’ Their new movie, ‘Chicken with Plums’ was released in DC on Aug. 31.
“Chicken With Plums” itself has a sweet, melancholy yet romantic life force — and a creative reincarnation. The original graphic novel was honored at Angouleme, the same esteemed international comics festival where Satrapi first exploded onto the world stage in 2001 with “Persepolis”; her comic tale of being a child of the Iranian revolution won the event’s Coup de Coeur Award.
Satrapi and her creative partner, French director Vincent Paronnaud, gorgeously adapted “Persepolis” into an animated film that won the 2007 Special Jury Prize at Cannes and received an Oscar nomination the next year — helping to anoint Satrapi as a star within comics and animation.
In re-teaming for “Chicken With Plums,” Satrapi and Paronnaud show a shared creative virtuosity — but that doesn’t mean their visions are always shared. “Sometimes I can’t believe what he is seeing,” Satrapi says passionately, smiling widely as she adjusts her bright, white-and-turquoise shift dress. “In that moment, I wish for him not to be alive in the morning. But the next day, I can’t wait to work with him. Like with your brother or sister, you forgive and love them and go on.”
Paronnaud, having extinguished his cigarette, laughs at this description when it’s recounted a half-hour later. Through his thick salt-and-pepper beard, the lean director-cartoonist smiles knowingly and says: “That’s the way it is” with art.
By the end of our interview, Satrapi’s zest for life again burns irrepressible. Her Diet Coke is barely touched, and she needs a smoke.
As we part, still wafting in my head like a cartoon smoke-cloud are words she told me earlier: “I’m extremely careful about what I really want to do, and I have to be happy doing it, so I haven’t just wasted my time and my life.”
Cavna writes The Post blog ”Comic Riffs.”
“Chicken With Plums” (91 minutes; rated PG-13) opens Friday at Landmark Bethesda Row and Shirlington 7.