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La Sirène — Young Critics Workshop

La Sirène (Sepideh Farsi, 2023)


Dust is everywhere, yet it usually goes unnoticed. In Sepideh Farsi’s animated feature La Sirène (2023), dust is very prominent. It appears in big pentagons, rhombus, and other shapes. Hence, something that in reality is microscopic, in this film becomes visible.

There’s not much narrative in La sirène. Set in Abadan during 1980, the first year of the Iran-Irak war, the film follows Amid, a teenager who struggles in the middle of the conflict. The bombings, explosions, and shootings work as punctuation marks in a vignette structure where everyday aspects are highlighted. Hence, street football games, cock fights, and kisses among the ruins are the central actions in the middle of this frenetic pace.

Thanks to its narrative structure, La Sirène draws attention to its sensorial qualities, which allows to rediscover elements from reality that tend to be overlooked. Paradoxically, this happens by means of an unrealistic style. The 2D animation is flat. It resembles that of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis (2007), but with a very rich color palette. The different figures in the shot lack a clear contour, so they are distinguished thanks to the different color tones. Apart from dust, whenever there is an explosion, smoke is presented with soft tones that contrast with the background so that it is possible to see through it.  A big depth of field akin to that of a three-dimensional world is created and, thus, our sight is refreshed.

In the middle of a context of war, the attempt at a renewed sensibility may be a most political gesture. As such, the film does justice to its title. The sirens warn the citizens about bombings and rouse them to move. La sirène works in similar fashion.