Mitch Berg and I thought the opening of The Stoning of Soraya M would make a great occasion to get the Minnesota Organization of Bloggers (MOB) together for an evening. We plan to attend the 7 pm showing at the Landmark Uptown tonight, one of the great, classic theaters of Minneapolis, and get the word of mouth going on this powerful film. If you want to join us, just show up at the theater and join us! If you’re a MOB blogger, be sure to put the invite up on your blog. We want to get a big crowd to make a splash — and to get together, too.
From my original review:
Soraya’s husband Ali has tired of Soraya after having four children with her, and wants to marry the 14-year-old daughter of one of his prisoners. He can’t afford two wives, so he demands a divorce from Soraya, who refuses for economic reasons. Instead, Ali conspires with the local mullah — a fraud who has to keep Ali from exposing him — to frame Soraya for infidelity. The “evidence” is laughably transparent, but as Soraya notes in the film, “voices of women do not matter here”. … The Stoning of Soraya M will send a much more powerful message all around the world — and it will haunt you for a very long time, especially the execution sequence, which had most of the audience tonight in sobs.
The Los Angeles Times:
What is so compelling about this film, directed by Cyrus Nowrasteh, an American of Iranian descent who adapted Sahebjam’s 1994 book with his wife, Betsy Giffen Nowrasteh, is the way religion can be exploited in the most obscene and hypocritical manner by those in power to oppress others — and how total power over others can corrupt totally. …
“The Stoning of Soraya M.” goes well beyond its angry didacticism and its specific indictment of men’s oppression of women to achieve the impact of a Greek tragedy through its masterful grasp of suspense and group psychology, and some superb acting, especially on the parts of Marnò in the title role of a courageous martyr and the commanding Aghdashloo, Oscar nominated for her performance in “The House of Sand and Fog.”
Tommy Christopher hits the nail on the head:
You go into a film like this knowing that women are going to be culturally disadvantaged in its world, but still, there are shocks delivered with offhand nonchalance. Soraya’s husband, for example, has no trouble turning his sons against their mother, and has an equally easy time discarding his [two] daughters.
Soraya herself is a relatable heroine, not sainted, just a wife and mother trying to salvage a life from the wreckage of her marriage. Her eyes tell much of her story.
Grounding the entire film is Aghadashloo’s powerhouse performance as the only person in town who seems to remember when women were worth something. She’s so world-weary that when she’s horrified, you know something really bad is happening. …
The film is disturbing and heartwrenching, yet there is a triumphant moment in this film that is unique to it. This is the only film I know of whose climactic moment is the very fact that you are seeing it.