Film & TV

The Stoning of Soraya M.

215px-The_Stoning_of_Soraya_M__US_PosterRating: MA 15 + 

Running Time: 114 minutes 

Language: English, Persian with English subtitles

Release Date: 27 May 2010 

Showing at: Palace Nova cinemas


Inspired by a true story and bestseller of the same name by Paris based journalist Freidoune Sahebjam.  The book has been banned in Iran because of its perceived critical attitude toward the Iranian legal system.  It retells the story of Soraya (Mozhan Marno) married with four children, two sons, two daughter, to her philandering husband Ali (Navid Negahban) who wants a divorce so he is free to take on another wife without any financial obligations to his current wife.  Despite her husbands repeated abuse she refuses to divorce him as she will not be able to afford to support her two daughters on her own.  Falsely accused of adultery, as a way of getting rid of the problem, Soraya faces death by stoning. This is 1986 Iran, post removal of the Shah which has seen an upsurge of fundamentalist doctrine under Ayatollah Khomeni. 

 Though it’s not always pleasant to watch it is such an important but harrowing tale that needs to be told and everyone should see it to witness for themselves the crimes against humanity, to women.  Where men can treat women like goods and chattel with no recourse under their interpretation of Sharia law in this man’s world which is compounded bythe indoctrination of their children to reinforce human rights abuse.

Its not just the true story that is compelling, its actually a well made film by director and co-writer Cyrus Nowrasteh, good photography and authenticity which captures the location and gives you a sense of time and place. The screenplay is well written by the director and his wife Betsy Giffen Nowrasteh, with the story told from the perspective of Soraya’s widowed Aunt Zahara (Shohreh Aghdashloo, THE HOUSE of SAND and FOG) to journalist Sahebjam (James Caviezel, THE PASSION of the CHRIST) who happens to stop in this village by chance to fix his car while enroute to the border.  It is an emotive subject matter however its not sensationalised though stoning scene is quite brutal and graphic it is not gratuitous.  It is hard not to be moved by the level of injustice which is underlined by the fact each year hundreds of women face a slow and agonising death by stoning throughout the Middle East and South Africa.  This is not merely a one off event which adds gravity to the story’s impact and one can’t help but feel moral outrage.  Fine acting performances especially from Academy award nominee Shoreh Aghdashloo,  in her courageous protrayal of taking a stand against injustice and the mob mentality.

Highly recommended viewing and take your tissues as even the most hardened will be moved the travesty of justice.

 4/5 stars

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