Afghanistan’s 2012 submission to the Oscars, “The Patience Stone,” written and directed by Atiq Rahimi, will be playing at Pasadena’s Laemmle Playhouse 7 starting August 23.
Based on the best-selling novel by the same name, the film presents a woman in her thirties who speaks out loud as she tends to her comatose husband, who is at the brink of death after the war left him with a bullet in his head.
First her stories are meant to help her husband regain consciousness and are intermixed with the prayers that she, as a Muslim wife, is supposed to say in his behalf. But as the days go on, and provoked by the struggles that constantly surround her, her speech becomes freer, revealingly honest, and under the circumstances, cathartic.
Quietly “listening,” her husband unknowingly becomes her “patience stone,” which in Persian mythology, and in Muslim folklore, is a magical black stone said to be able to absorb the plight of those who confide in it. Confide in him she does and without restraint, telling him her most intimate secrets regarding love and sex, her desires and emotions, her feelings about him as a husband, and much more.
The enjoyment of the movie expands by appreciating the difficulty of its making. Most of the indoor shots were taken in Morocco, where the crew found apartment blocks that look exactly like Soviet-era housing in Kabul. But the exterior shots were taken in Kabul itself, where permission to enter was granted for a small crew with a small portable digital camera under the pretense of doing a documentary.
The beautiful leading actress, Golshifteh Farahani, did not travel to Kabul, partly because she is very well known in that part of the world and would have gathered too much attention and partly because her safety could not be assured. Therefore, in the few shots where her character walks the streets of the City, it is a different actress who wears the burkah.
You may recognize Farahani, since she became the first Iranian actress to play in a major Hollywood production when she participated alongside Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crow in “Body of Lies” in 2008. Such contribution turned her into persona non grata in Iran, where she is not allowed to make a living and her work is banned. She now lives, as does Rahimi, in Paris, France.
“The Patience Stone” is interesting throughout its duration. The viewer is left with much information about the daily living, particularly of women, in a world that is often a mystery to westerners.
The dialogue is in Farsi with English subtitles. It is 102 minutes long and rated R due to sexual content and violence.
“The Patience Stone” is scheduled to play at the Laemmle Playhouse 7 starting August 23. The theater is located at 673 E. Colorado Blvd. Information at www.laemmle.com
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