The Stoning of Soraya M

Review of The Stoning of Soraya M. written by Betsy Giffen Nowrasteh and directed by Cyrus Nowrasteh.

Rating *****

I came across this film totally by accident. I had never heard of it and just happened to be browsing the shelves at Blockbuster when I picked it up. I'm glad I did. This is a powerful true story. It's a hollywood film, but everything in it is authentic, from the actors to the location to the language. The film takes place in a remote village in Iran. Most of the film uses subtitles, but I hardly noticed.

The film starts with what seems like ten minutes of visuals and no dialogue. You see this a lot with films that are slim on plot. But the opening minutes here serve a purpose. In those first few minutes you meet most of the main characters and know exactly where this story takes place. Sometimes pictures are worth a thousand words.

Since I'm writing this post on Easter Sunday, it's only apt that I mention that this is a story about a crucifixion. A woman is falsely accused of adultery by her husband for the sole reason of him wanting to avoid having to pay her anything in a divorce. It's a story about religious fanaticism, but it's also a story of how easy it is for a mob mentality to take over.

You know after those first few minutes of silence how the film ends. But that doesn't lesson the impact of all that takes place as events lead toward the inevitable ending that's mentioned in the title. The final scenes of the actual stoning are hard to watch. This film has a higher ambition than just entertainment and achieving that goal requires a real portrayal of what happened and continues to happen in places like Iran and Afghanistan.

All of the actors were excellent in their roles, but Shohreh Aghdashloo, who played Zahra, and Mozhan Marno, who played Soraya deserve notice for their performances.

So the next time you're looking for something to see, do yourself a favor and pass on Couples Retreat and the Hangover and give this a try.

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