Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Patience Stone

Even though The Patience Stone has a dozen or so cast members listed in the credits, it is basically a one-woman show, and that one woman has a name I can't even begin to pronounce. Golshifteh Farahani. Doesn't exactly roll off this Yank's tongue.

This is a movie in Afghani Persian (that's a thing!) about a woman whose husband is in a coma after he got into a squabble with a compatriot over...I forget what, exactly, I think it may have been a slur leveled at the man's mother.

And so it falls to the woman to care for him in the ruins of the little village where they lived, as various warring factions fight around her.

If there's a takeaway from this film it's that the Afghanis are barbarians, though that may not be the intended message. At one point, The Woman (as she is styled) must tell some soldiers that she is a whore in order to keep them from raping her. (Muslim "honor" would prevent them from sullying themselves with a whore.)

But most of the movie is just The Woman talking to her comatose husband, with whom it seems she had never previously spoken. And so she begins pouring out her feelings, and then finally confessions to him. The confessions become increasingly...confessiony, even though the general gist of the Big One at the end is pretty obvious right off the bat, at least to these jaded westerners.

The details are a bit surprising, though. Indeed, the whole movie presents a complex portrait of being a woman in a rural Muslim community. (I can't recommend it.)

Ms. Farahani is up to the task though if you're not into the heavy-acty kind of stuff, you're not gonna enjoy this. On the other hand, if you have a hard time with let's-call-it "woman with a grievance" type movies, it can be kind of refreshing to see actual patriarchal oppression.

So, of course, you probably haven't heard of this movie, won't hear of it, and certainly won't see it, at least not while there are Christian Republicans #WarOnWomen-ing.

We liked it, though I think it was quite difficult for us to relate to, which meant the heaviness of The Woman's oppression was hard to endure. It felt a lot longer than the 1:40 running time. We would recommend it, though.

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