In a war ridden country a woman watches over the husband reduced to a vegetable state by a bullet in the neck, abandoned by Jihad companions and brothers. One day, the woman decides to say things to him she could never have done before.
Somewhere, in Afghanistan or elsewhere, in a country torn apart by a war... A young woman in her thirties watches over her older husband in a decrepit room. He is reduced to the state of a vegetable because of a bullet in the neck. Not only is he abandoned by his companions of the Jihad, but also by his brothers. One day, the woman decides to tell the truth to him about her feelings about their relationship to her silent husband. She talks about her childhood, her suffering, her frustrations, her loneliness, her dreams, her desires... She says things she could never have done before, even though they have been married for the past 10 years. Therefore, this paralyzed man unconsciously becomes syngue sabour, a magic stone which, according to Persian mythology, when placed in front of a person shields her from unhappiness, suffering, pains and miseries. In this wait for her husband to come back to life, the woman struggles to survive and live. She finds refuge in her aunt's place, who is...Written by
The official entry of Afghanistan to the Best Foreign Language Film of the 85th Academy Awards 2013. See more »
This Woman Has Stones.
Man, does this sound like a loser -- a woman tends her unconscious husband at home and heaps all of her grief and sorrow on the poor guy's insensible bald head. A Lifetime Movie Network special, right? But no! I was caught up in it at once and couldn't break away. The wife is in her mid-thirties and, while by no means glamorized, has attractive features, striking. Somebody should paint her portrait.
But nobody will because she, her older husband, and their two little girls live in a shabby apartment in some unnamed city in the Middle East. They depend on a water bearer, who may or may not show up because the dusty streets are dangerous, what with the militia on one side and the rebels on the other. They have no electricity either and live by lamplight at night, when they dare turn it on at all.
If she goes out, she wears a mustard-colored burqa, which had always impressed me as a heavy garment made of something like canvas but is actually a thin, silken, all-around cape that's easily slipped back onto the shoulders. The woman has few friends -- one of her neighbors has gone round the bend because the men of her house have been slaughtered and hung upside down -- and her only relative is an older aunt who runs a whorehouse. There is a Mullah who knocks at the gate from time to time but he's extremely demanding and his predictions are wrong, so she turns him away.
After the first two or three minutes, it lost any resemblance to a Lifetime Movie Network special. When the rebels (or the militia, I couldn't tell which) break into her apartment, she hides the wounded husband in a cubby hole to keep him from being killed. When the two armed and ugly men begin to take an interest in her she lies and claims to be one of her aunt's prostitutes, which disgusts the men to the extent that they leave her impure body alone. Well, except that the younger of the two -- an inexperience young man with a stutter -- returns later, flings a handful of bills on the floor, throws her down among them, pulls off their hampering undergarments, and achieves intromission and ejaculation at almost the same instant. "Is this your first time?", she asks wonderingly, and he nods.
Thereafter he appears with some regularity desiring her services. He even secretly leaves a small bandanna-wrapped pile of food on their window sill. He's gotten to kind of like her, despite her professed profession. She rather appreciates his coming too -- not just for the money, which buys them food and water, but because he's so shy and inexperienced that she can guide him in foreplay and tell him what to do to give her pleasure. She begins to groom herself more carefully and, anticipating his arrival, she dresses in becoming clothes instead of her usual rags.
That brings us back to the balding husband, flat on his back, a bullet in his neck, the result of a personal quarrel. She's keeping him alive through a tube running from a drip sack nailed to the wall -- just water and sugar. And just how did hubby treat her, even since he married her when she was fifteen? Like an animal. The more beans she spills, the more we realize how complicated, how adversarial, their relationship was. He'd never kissed her or fondled her. The woman's job was to produce children. After the first months of their marriage, his family began to think she was sterile, when in fact it was he who was shooting blanks. Consequently, she allowed herself to be secretly impregnated by two other men.
The title, "The Patience Stone," refers to a legend in which a character confesses all her grief to a stone and when the stone finally shatters, she's freed of all her guilt and sorrow. It plays into the movie's climactic scene, which I won't describe.
The acting is as good as it is in any Hollywood movie, the setting is evocative, and all the elements fit together properly. It's pretty well done. You're not likely to be bored.
But I have to add two observations. The voices tell me to do it. I know two anthropologists who have done field work in Middle Eastern cultures. One told me that she'd met a middle-aged lady who had never had a period because she was constantly made pregnant by her husband. Another told me that the burqa is not a particularly good way of hiding a woman's beauty from the boys on the street corners, who sometimes whistled when a woman wearing a tent passed by. They muttered, "Wow -- look at those FEET!" And why not? The feet are the windows of the soul. So it is written.
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