San Francisco Chronicle
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Oct 25, 2013
When your main character does most of her talking to someone who's in a vegetative state, and much of the action takes place in one drab room, it's difficult to be textured and lyrical and sensual.
But the skillfully crafted "The Patience Stone" manages to be all of those things, as it tells the story of a war-weary, abandoned woman struggling to care for her wounded husband while trapped in the rubble of their apartment.
Anchoring the film is an outstanding performance from Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani, who plays the timid, nameless woman who comes to believe that her jihadist spouse — rendered silent by a bullet in the neck — is a "patience stone" that can absorb all the misery confided in it.
|‘THE PATIENCE STONE’
Opens today at Kahala 8 (In Farsi with English subtitles)
And confide she does. The woman gradually becomes more daring in front of her husband, revealing her hidden desires and her deep frustrations about their emotionally empty relationship — blunt pronouncements that could get her killed if the patient emerges from his comatose condition.
Afghan-born director Atiq Rahimi (who wrote the novel on which the film is based) never allows the proceedings to get claustrophobic.
And with the help of gritty Morocco locations and nifty guerrilla camera work in Kabul, we always feel like we are part of the woman's war-torn world.
Despite a few unnecessary flourishes in the final act, Rahimi also avoids being didactic: Without any judgments, we feel the burden a patriarchal society places on this devout woman. Yet ultimately, we also celebrate her courage and strength. From beginning to end, it's a very human story.