The Patience Stone (a J!-ENT DVD Review)
March 4, 2014 by Dennis Amith
“The Patience Stone” is unlike any film that I have ever seen, especially how the film tackles situations that may be considered tabu in the Middle East. I really enjoyed the film for its bold storyline and wonderful performance. It may not be for everyone but I definitely recommend this film for those with an open mind!
© 2013 Razor Film Produktion GmbH, The Film SAS, Arte France Cinema, Corniche Pictures, Jahan-e-Honar Productions and Orange Studio. All Rights Reserved.
DVD TITLE: The Patience Stone
DATE OF FILM RELEASE: 2013
DURATION: 102 Minutes
DVD INFORMATION: 2:35:1, Anamorphic Widescreen, Persian/Farsi 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: Engish, English, SDH
COMPANY: Sony Picture Classics
RATED: R (For Sexual Content, Some violence and Language)
RELEASE DATE: March 11, 2014
Directed by Atiq Rahimi
Scenario by Jean-Claude Carriere and Atiq Rahimi
Novel by Atiq Rahimi
Produced by Michael Gentile
Co-Produced by Remi Burah, Gerhard Meixner, Roman Paul
Executive Producer: Bendeicte Bellocq, Hani Farsi
Associate Producer: Lauraine Heftler, Verona Meier, David Pierret
Cinematography by Theirry Arbogast
Edited by Herve de Luze
Production Design by Erwin Prib
Costume Design by Malek Jahan Khazai
Golshifteh Farahan as the Woman
Hamid Djavadan as The Man
Hassina Burgan as The Aunt
Massi Mrowat as The Young Soldier
Mohamed Al Maghraoui as The Mullah
In a country torn apart by war, a young woman watches over her older husband. A bullet in the neck has reduced him to a comatose state. One day, the woman’s vigil changes. She begins to speak truth to her silent husband, telling him about her suffering, her dreams, and secrets. After years of living under his control, with no voice of her own, she says things she could never have spoken before. Her husband has unconsciously become syngué sabour (THE PATIENCE STONE) – a magical black stone that, according to Persian mythology, absorbs the plight of those who confide in it. The woman’s confessions are extraordinary and without restraint. But after weeks of looking after her husband, she begins to act, discovering herself in the relationship she starts with a young soldier. THE PATIENCE STONE is adapted from the best-selling novel by Atiq Rahimi.
In 2008, French-Afghan writer Atiq Rahimi, wrote the critically acclaimed novel titled “The Patience Stone”.
Regarded as an important book giving voice that explores the turmoil and thoughts, no matter how dark, how sexual of a Middle Eastern woman, suffice to say, it’s not a common thing to see a woman portrayed in such a a way. As women continue to have no voice in the Middle East, and as women fight for their own rights, “The Patience Stone” is a surprising and yet entertaining film that one can enjoy for its unique portrayal of a Middle Eastern woman telling her deepest and darkest thoughts to her deathly sick husband.
It’s audacious and there is no doubt that the story is deserving of the praise and criticism because it’s so daring and so different.
And sure enough, what best than to see such a storyline adapted into a film.
Directed by the original author Atiq Rahimi, “The Patience Stone” would star actress Golshifteh Farahani (“Body of Lies”, “About Elly”), an Iranian model and actress who, like the film, has received praise and criticism for her topless model photoshoots. A woman who is daring to fight the conservatism of traditional practices, suffice to say, she is the right person to play the protagonist, the woman.
“The Patience Stone” is a reference to a magical black stone in Persian folklore that absorbs the plight of those who confide in it and due to the hardship and pain, the stone blows up and leads to the apocalypse.
For the film, “The Patience Stone” refers to the husband (portrayed by Hamid Djavadan), a war hero, who got into an argument and was shot in the neck. Now he is near death and comatose but his young wife (portrayed by Golshifteh Farahani) is told by the Mullah that he should be given medicine to keep him alive.
And for the woman, she is determined in taking care of her husband, for her two daughters sake and the fact that all her family have left her. Her closest confidant, her aunt (portrayed by Hassina Burgan) is all that she has left, but even she has left the war torn area of Afghanistan.
And when the war comes too close to home as the woman’s neighbors are murdered by soldiers, the woman is determined in taking care of her husband but must find her aunt, so she can leave her kids with her temporarily. We learn that the woman’s aunt is a prostitute who was left behind by her husband because she is unable to have children, and so she was raped by her father-in-law until she killed him. But the woman’s aunt is her true confidant and one that has helped the woman through her toughest times.
But while the woman tries to take care of her husband by feeding him, soldiers have come in to her home and as one could have raped her, she tells them she is a prostitute and is spat on by the man who is disgraced by the woman for selling her body.
Her aunt tells her that she made the right move because men have no problems raping a virgin but they will never rape a whore.
But as the woman goes back to her husband to feed and care of him, she starts to talk about the difficult life she had with her husband to him. How she was always stuck at home as he was at war, that during their marriage, his dagger was there in his place.
But the woman is blunt about her emotions. How she feels that men wanted her body, how many masturbated to her, wanted to have sex with her and when she was in the mood around her husband, she wanted to play with herself but because her husband would see it as unnatural, she was made to sleep with the children in the other room.
But one day, after a young soldier (with a severe stuttering problem) tries to pay for services with her, at first she is unnerved about nearly being raped but needing money to take care of her husband and her family, she realizes that perhaps she can make money selling her body. And also be pleasured sexually, which her husband can’t do.
But the more this woman begins to be lost about her life as a wife and a woman of religion, her taste of freedom and sexual freedom begin to take over her and she begins to have this inner turmoil about whether to pursue her true feelings or to be the traditional wife to watch and care over her husband, no matter how bad things are and the fact that he may never come back to life.
And as the free spirit of the woman begins to emerge, also unleashed are the skeletons in her closet.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“The Patience Stone” is presented in 2:35:1 aspect ratio (Anamorphic Widescreen), Persian/Farsi 5.1 Dolby Digital.
Picture quality is good as one can expect on DVD as the film utilized natural lighting. The film was shot with Canon 5D Mark II’s and shots were done in Turkey and Afghanistan.
While picture quality is good, the film is pretty much dialogue driven and there are some aspects with bomb blasts that will catch you by surprise thanks to the sound effects of bombs going off.
Subtitles are in English and English SDH.
“The Patience Stone” features the following special features:
- Making of “The Patience Stone” – (29:42) Behind-the-scenes making of the Patience Stone
- Theatrical Trailer – (2:01) Theatrical trailer for “The Patience Stone”.
In every country, you come across films that are audacious and shocking to their culture.
From Nagisa Oshima’s “In the Realm of Senses” which was banned in Japan and even in America with “Deep Throat” which was banned throughout the United States during its release, there are many films that are controversial for various reasons.
“The Patience Stone” is a film that may not be a sexual film in the sense of the two films I just mentioned but its the discussion of private thoughts from a woman, dirty thoughts from a Middle Eastern woman, that is rather intriguing because we are aware that rights for females is restricted.
Women are fighting for equalization, some fight against the culture and its conservatism and with “The Patience Stone”, at first the film plays off a storyline about a young wife trying to take care of her husband who was shot in the neck after an accident and he is near dead, but has been using all her money in order to keep her husband alive and in hopes he will make a full recovery.
And as the film plays out like a woman who will do anything for her man because she loves him, we start to see her discussions start to become bolder and much more antagonistic towards her husband because of the restrictions placed on a woman’s right of freedom or expression.
Having to face a strict lifestyle with her husband, the woman has no choice but to abide by his rules. Do things by his rules and for her, she wants to explore the thoughts that she has in her head, may it be her feeling towards the war that has led to the deaths of her neighbors and even putting herself in harms way.
But after seeing how men during the war treat woman like they are meat and want to have sex with them without remorse and how women take up a profession of being a whore because they need to make money, we see this woman changing her tone with her discussions with her husband that lies there. She feels that he must listen to her as he can’t do anything to hurt her and so one-by-one, we start to hear about her fantasies as well as revealing the skeletons in her closet.
Actress Golshifteh Farahan is quite amazing for playing such a role in which all the work falls on her shoulders. Most of the dialogue in the film is her in conversations with her husband and it was no doubt a stressful role for the actress as she even felt herself falling in the path of madness of her character. From many pages of dialogue that she had to remember in a short amount of time but to live and breath like this character who goes through a transformation.
It’s a bold film which I never would expect to watch a film in the Middle East featuring women discuss their sex lives and sexual exploits, it just doesn’t happen and the things discussed in the film are no doubt tabu, that I can understand if the film received its tough criticism, especially for those who are religious or came from a traditional upbringing.
The DVD is presented in 2:35:1 aspect ratio, while picture quality is good as what one can expect on DVD, audio is presented in Persian/Farsi 5.1 and English subtitles are easy to read. You also get a making of special feature which shows us how things were behind-the-scenes as they filmed in Turkey and also in Afghanistan.
Overall, “The Patience Stone” is an audacious film in one aspect, but also a wonderful film featuring a fantastic performance by actress Golshifteh Farahan with a role that defies Middle East traditional and conservative practices. I can see audiences who will praise this film for being non-traditional and bold, while others who are religious, become upset with how the film engages topics that are tabu and a woman going against a culture.
But “The Patience Stone” is unlike any film that I have ever seen, especially how the film tackles situations that may be considered tabu in the Middle East. I really enjoyed the film for its bold storyline and wonderful performance. It may not be for everyone but I definitely recommend this film for those with an open mind!
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