Atiq Rahimi fled Afghanistan in 1984 following the Soviet led invasion of his homeland. He took political asylum in France where he studied film and in 2013 is now about to release his second feature that is based on his bestselling novel – The Patience Stone. The film is co-written by Jean-Claude Carriere and stars the exquisite Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani in a story of courage set in an undisclosed Middle Eastern village that is ravaged by violent, ideological conflict.
The word courage in respect to this film is a bit of an understatement and it is an eye opener to the archaic rules that dominate a Muslim woman’s life. The characters, like the setting, remain unnamed and the film’s dialogue is in Arabic with the English subtitles revealing the poetical undertones of the story. The Patience Stone is rendered from the Persian myth of Syngue Sabour which is a stone that can harbour all misgivings, misfortunes and secrets until it eventually bursts and releases all burdens. The stone is represented in the film by the woman’s incapacitated husband who is in a vegetative state following a bullet wound to the neck, as she prays for his recovery she begins to share with him her concealed mysteries and as a result her healing process begins.
This film is not for those who like their cinema experiences fast-paced, the narrative is designed for those who enjoy taking in the entirety of each shot and working through the peripheral elements that hold the story together. It is also recommended to those who are partial toward their foreign language films. Golshifteh Farahani’s performance alone is worth a watch and the film is a good insight into the complexities of the Muslim world. The Patience Stone will be in cinemas from 22 August 22.
Reviewed by Ben Blackman