Thursday, February 18, 2010

"The Stoning of Soraya M.:" A Review

I'll start by saying, I'm not a professional movie critic. Nor am I a fan of excessive blood and gore in my choice of films. However, I value movies that are based on true stories, on events that reveal something about the human experience. This is why I found The Stoning of Soraya M. to be a moving yet informative film that everyone (perhaps above age 16) should see.

Directed by Cyrus Nowrasteh, it stars Mozhan Marno as Soraya M., and Oscar-nominee Shohreh Aghdashloo, who stars as Soraya's aunt, Zahra. The above link takes you to the movie trailer. However, I believe overly-dramatic music and segmenting of movie scenes, although necessary to compete with today's ridiculous trailers, takes away from the experience of a movie like this one.

As you may have heard, this movie portrays the life and sudden murder of an innocent woman in a country that, even today, treats its women like second-class citizens. But it is not like one of the many news reports shown on TV about one of the stonings and honor killings that occur in so many countries. This movie gives context to the situation, and depicts Soraya not simply as a victim, or as a case file, but as a person who led a life that was abruptly and brutally taken away.

As I mentioned earlier, the stoning scene features a significant amount of blood, but it is not without reason. Actually, Ms. Marno said in an interview that the film's version of the stoning was very toned down for the audience's sake. But I found that, for the last fourth of the nearly-2-hour-long film, I could not stop crying. Director Nowrasteh was successful in portraying the daily lives of the people in this story, not to mention how status and power is abused, especially when combined with Shariah Law.

So after watching this film, you won't have a smile on your face. You won't feel excitement-induced adrenaline pumping through your veins. But it will stir more emotions in you than any action-packed thriller ever would.

**For a fuller preview of the film and important related information, here is a documentary from, which features an interview with the film's director and the starring actresses.

Photo credit: at Flickr

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