Atiq Rahimi’s The Patience Stone is a unique, intimately scaled and enormously affecting dissection of patriarchal culture. The French-Afghan filmmaker’s drama, which debuted at last year’s Toronto Film Festival and was Afghanistan’s Best Foreign Language Academy Award submission, serves as a wonderful showcase for star Golshifteh Farahani, and if there’s any justice will deliver even more success her way.
The film’s story is extraordinarily plain, yet still gripping. In contemporary, war-torn Afghanistan, a young wife (Farahani) and mother of two children, after around a decade of marriage, tends to her wounded husband (Hamid Djavadan), who’s been rendered comatose by a bullet to the neck. Abandoned by his family and facing mortal uncertainty with the encroachment of resistance fighters, this unnamed woman, frustrated and largely alone, she begins to pour out her heart. The very act of confessing harsh, long-secreted-away truths to her husband — of her lack of sexual pleasure in their marriage, of her utter disconnection from him given his lack of even basic kindness — delivers her from a burden, transforming her on an almost religious level.
Rahimi, adapting his own award-winning novel with Jean-Claude Carrière, offers up a script that is sometimes a bit schematic. But he also provides economical and eloquent glimpses into the pathology of women raised and abused in this social system. Farahani (Body of Lies, Just Like a Woman), meanwhile, has an engaging presence — conveying both woundedness and the blooming of an intelligence suppressed too long. For the full, original review, from ShockYa, click here. (Sony Pictures Classics, R, 102 minutes)