‘The Patience Stone’: Liberating confessions of a wife’s anguish
A movie review of “The Patience Stone,” Atiq Rahimi’s devastating drama, set in war-torn Kabul, about a young Afghan wife who pours out her anger and anguish to her comatose warrior husband.
Special to The Seattle Times
‘The Patience Stone,’ with Golshifteh Farahani, Hamidrez Javdan. Directed by Atiq Rahimi, from a screenplay by Rahimi and Jean-Claude Carrière, based on a novel by Rahimi. 102 minutes. Rated R for sexual content, some violence and language. In Farsi, with English subtitles. Sundance Cinemas.
“Don’t leave me alone,” a despairing wife implores her husband in “The Patience Stone.” “I’m suffering,” she later says. And later still there’s this: “Go to hell.”
The husband does not respond. He cannot respond. In Afghan filmmaker Atiq Rahimi’s devastating drama, the husband (Hamidrez Javdan), a warrior casualty of Afghanistan’s ongoing warfare, has been rendered comatose by a bullet in the neck. His wife (Golshifteh Farahani), a much younger woman bound to her husband by a sense of marital obligation and by the social customs of the fundamentalist Muslim culture of Afghanistan, is his sole caregiver. In their ramshackle home in war-torn Kabul (some scenes were surreptitiously filmed on location in that city; most were shot in Morocco), there is no money. There is no food; she feeds her helpless husband with fluid dripping from a plastic bag. And there is no love.
Based on a 2008 novel by Rahimi, the picture, co-scripted by French screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière, is largely a monologue delivered with anguish and anger by the wife to the unblinking, staring face of her husband. The bare room where the husband lies helpless becomes a confessional where Farahani pours out the woman’s life story in a performance that grabs you with its quiet yet searing power.
The title refers to a mythical stone to which individuals confide their deepest secrets. And the wife has many secrets: about her unhappiness with her arranged marriage, about the sense of oppression she’s felt of having been unloved and ignored by her husband, and about feeling trapped by the strictures of a Muslim society that treats women as the inferiors of men.
As she speaks of matters that have gone unspoken for so long, she’s surprised to discover how freeing the act of confession is. It unleashes an intensifying sense of self-worth within her. The consequences of that inner liberation are both joyful and dire.
Soren Andersen: firstname.lastname@example.org