You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Patience Stone

Sensual and horrifying, "The Patience Stone" plays like a mesmerizing, modern take on the tales of Scheherazade and a parable on the suffering of Afghan women.

With: Golshifteh Farahani, Hamid Djavdan, Hassina Burgan, Massi Mrowat. (Farsi dialogue)

Sensual and horrifying, “The Patience Stone” plays like a mesmerizing, modern take on the tales of Scheherazade and a parable on the suffering of Afghan women. Afghanistan-born, France-based helmer Atiq Rahimi adapts his own novel set in a Muslim country torn apart by war, where a beautiful woman in her 30s cares for her comatose husband, relieving her burden by confessing her frustrations, dreams and desires. Featuring a tour-de-force performance by exiled Iranian thesp Golshifteh Farahani (“About Elly”), Eastern rhythms and Euro production polish, this opened-up chamber drama should engage niche arthouse audiences in the West without testing their forbearance.

The woman (Farahani) is alone with her two daughters and the body of her paralyzed husband (Hamid Djavdan) when their decrepit neighborhood becomes one of the frontlines of a war that seems to never end. Her husband’s brothers and his Jihadist companions have abandoned them, not caring about the fate of what they regard as worthless females.

Irony abounds. Although the husband was once a soldier, his life-threatening injury, a bullet in the neck, was sustained in a barroom brawl over an insult. He is wounded, but it’s she who suffers. She finds temporary refuge with her aunt (Hassina Burgan), a wise prostitute who tells her, “Those who don’t know how to make love, make war.”

The woman seeks to free herself from her suffering through solitary confessions to her silent husband. She tells him about her childhood, her loneliness and disappointments. It’s the first time in her life that she can speak so freely. She touches and kisses him, intimacies that he would never have been permitted under normal circumstances, although they have been married for 10 years.

When a stuttering young soldier (Massi Mrowat), an orphan long abused by those in command, takes her for a prostitute, she finds happiness in shaping his sexual education and teaching him how to pleasure her. And this, too, she confides to her husband, along with long-held secrets about the paternity of their daughters.

Working with renowned screenwriter Jean-Claude Carriere, helmer Rahimi (“Earth and Ashes”) successfully opens up his own Prix Goncourt-winning novel to create a strikingly cinematographic dramaturgy. We travel with the woman outside her home, through war-torn streets and also into the past of her memories. Although characters and places remain unnamed, so as to preserve universal aspects of the tale, viewers are still likely to understand it as taking place in Afghanistan.

The pic’s title comes from Persian mythology, the idea of a stone on which one might shed misfortunes, complaints and secrets until it is so full that it bursts. This notion and numerous religious references may pass over the heads of Western audiences, but in combination with the narrative’s emphasis on female sexuality, they will also severely limit the film’s distribution potential in many Muslim territories.

Lenser Thierry Arbogast’s supple, continuously gliding camerawork creates ongoing contrasts, between inside/outside, love/war, past/present. Beautifully lit costumes and production design provide pleasure for the eye.

The Patience Stone


Production: A Le Pacte (in France)/Entertainment One Films (in Canada)/Sony Pictures Classics (in U.S.) release of a Film, Studio 37, Corniche Group, Razor Film, Arte France Cinema, Jahan-E-Honar Prods. production with the support of Fonds Sud, Medienboard, Mini Traite. (International sales: Le Pacte, Paris.) Produced by Michael Gentile. Executive producer, Hani Farsi. Co-producers, Gerhard Meixner, Roman Paul. Directed by Atiq Rahimi. Screenplay, Rahimi, Jean-Claude Carriere, from a novel by Rahimi.

Crew: Camera (color, DV), Thierry Arbogast; editor, Herve de Luze; music, Max Richter; production designer, Erwin Prib; costume designer, Malak Jahan Khazai; sound (Dolby Digital), Noemi Hampel, Lars Ginzel, Dana Farzaneh Pour; associate producer, Lauraine Heftler. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Contemporary World Cinema), Sept. 9, 2012. Running time: 98 MIN.

Cast: With: Golshifteh Farahani, Hamid Djavdan, Hassina Burgan, Massi Mrowat. (Farsi dialogue)

More Scene

  • Oscars Ultimate Party Guide

    Oscar's Ultimate Party Guide 2019

    Welcome to Oscar week. It’s the time of year when Hollywood’s film industry celebrates all things movies. But it’s certainly not just the big show everyone is looking forward to. With voting closed, it’s all about the parties now. Who’s doing what and where and when are they doing it are the questions everyone is [...]

  • Yalitza AparicioTeen Vogue Young Hollywood Party,

    'Roma' Star Yalitza Aparicio, 'Central Park Five's' Jharrel Jerome Sound Off on Trump

    Yalitza Aparicio recently reunited with Alfonso Cuarón, who directed her in “Roma,” for a W magazine photo project that featured her standing at various barriers built at the border between Mexico and the United States. The message? “You can make a name for yourself despite the differences,” Aparicio told Variety on Friday at Teen Vogue’s Young [...]

  • Karl LagerfeldChanel Paris-Londres 2007/8 Show, London,

    Legendary Fashion Designer Karl Lagerfeld Dies at 85

    Karl Lagerfeld, the fashion icon – and iconoclast – who outfitted and photographed such stars as Nicole Kidman and Lady Gaga, has died. He was 85. Lagerfeld died in Paris, fashion house Chanel said. Although his health had been failing, he kept working up to his death, issuing instructions regarding Fendi’s fall ready-to-wear collection, which [...]

  • Eric Wareheim, 'The Simpsons' E.P. Matt

    Beefsteak Gathers Comedy Bigwigs for Meat and Mayhem

    The masterminds behind Beefsteak, a debauched tribute to the meaty arts that raises thousands for the Los Angeles Food Bank, switch things up each year so that guests are never bored. Organized by comedy players including Eric Wareheim, “The Simpsons” executive producer Matt Selman, and ABC Studios VP of comedy Cort Cass with Redbird chef Neal [...]

  • Alfonso Cuaron71st Annual Writers Guild Awards,

    Alfonso Cuarón on Academy's 'Inevitable' Reversal on Televised Oscar Categories

    Alfonso Cuarón isn’t exactly surprised that the Academy reversed its decision and will now air all the Oscar categories during the live show on Sunday. Feb. 24. Calling the decision “inevitable,”Cuarón tells Variety that he thinks the Academy should take things even further. “Let’s stop calling them technical categories!” he told Variety on Sunday night [...]

  • SAN FRANCISCO, CA - February 16

    San Francisco Symphony Ushers in Chinese New Year With Glitzy Gala

    As legend has it: among the Chinese Zodiac’s 12 animals, the pig comes last because it was the final one to arrive to a party thrown by the Jade Emperor — lazy sauntering being a characteristic trait of the animal. The folktale was perhaps less fitting this past Saturday evening, as the San Francisco Symphony [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content