The Patience Stone – Richly Rewarding

Those who don’t know how to make love make war.
– The suffering wife in Patience Stone (Dari language, 2012)

My months-long patient wait for The Patience Stone yielded a bountiful harvest of joy when I finally got to see the film last night (via Amazon Instant, $3.99).

To hail Patience Stone as a tour de force would not do adequate justice to the film.

Directed by French-Afghan writer Atiq Rahimi based on his eponymous 2008 novel, the Dari language movie is a glorious triumph of an unusual story garnished with superb acting by the gorgeous Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani.

In an age when many directors rehash plots with minor embellishments, Patience Stone’s theme is so unique it left me in a trance.

Set in war-plagued Afghanistan (?), the movie starts off with a nameless woman (Golshifteh Farahani) tending to her severely injured husband during a time of daily violent clashes outside.

The woman, mother of two young daughters, is 27 while the injured husband, a former Mujaheddin fighter, looks much older.

Shot in the neck, you see her husband in a speechless, comatose state with a saline drip over him.

Women in Islamic Lands

But Patience Stone is not just about a Muslim woman tending to a seriously injured spouse.

That is merely a peg, a starting point for a moving tale about a woman’s place in male-dominated Islamic societies.

To walk us through the past and present of this young woman, and all women, in Islamic societies, director Atiq Rahimi resorts to a novel technique – He has the wife soliloquize her life story to an unmoving, unresponsive husband.

From the cruel experiences of her childhood to the insensitive boorish husband and her recent rape by a young Mujaheddin fighter, she leaves nothing out in her soliloquy to her husband.

It’s her catharsis and, by extension, that of every Muslim in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere.

When the woman asks her husband, if he is even capable of hearing her, you realize at the end that the “he” is more than just her husband.

It’s a question posed to all Muslim men in a land forever preoccupied with waging one war or the other that they don’t even know how to make love.

Golshifteh Farahani is a brilliant actress who brings to life the daily horror Muslim women endure in Islamic societies.

I cannot too strongly recommend Atiq Rahimi’s Patience Stone.

For the rare Indian who can look beyond the usual Bollywood drivel or the Kollywood trash, Patience Stone comes with rich payoffs.

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