THE STONING OF SORAYA M.
Directed by Cyrus Nowrasteh; written by Mr. Nowrasteh and Betsy Giffen Nowrasteh, based on the book by Freidoune Sahebjam; director of photography, Joel Ransom; edited by Geoffrey Rowland and David Handman; music by John Debney; production designer, Judy Rhee; produced by Stephen McEveety and John Shepherd; released by Roadside Attractions and Mpower Pictures. Running time: 1 hour 56 minutes.
Characters: Shohreh Aghdashloo (Zahra), Mozhan Marno (Soraya), Navid Negahban (Ali), David Diaan (Ebrahim), Parviz Sayyad (Hashem) and Jim Caviezel (Freidoune Sahebjam).
A tragic true story that needed to be told.
The Stoning of Soraya M is a 2008 American movie adapted from the book La Femme Lapidée by French-Iranian journalist Freidoune Sahebjam. It is based on the true story of Soraya Manutchehri (played by Mozhan Marnò), an Iranian woman who was stoned to death by her village for being wrongly accused by her husband of adultery.
A journalist visits
Freidoune Sahebjam, played by James Caviezel, was traveling through Iran and happened to stop in Soraya’s village, the day after she was stoned to death. Soraya’s aunt, Zahra (Shohreh Aghdashloo), approaches the journalist with the story of what happened. As secretly as possible, she sits down with Freidoune and tells him the story of what happened, which he records.
Zahra recounts her niece’s troubles, which began with her abusive husband Ali (Navid Negahban) when he decided that he wanted to divorce Soraya in order to marry a “younger woman”—a 14 year-old girl. However, in order to be approved a divorce, he needs permission from the mullah of the village.
The accusations begins
When Soraya begins working for a man in the village who was recently widowed, Ali devises a plan to spread rumors that Soraya is being unfaithful to him with the widower. Through further lies and manipulation, Ali succeeds in convincing the village and the mullah of Soraya’s “unfaithfulness,” as it the word of three men against the word of a woman.
Zahra does what she can to try to persuade the village mullah to let Soraya live, but after a tricky plan by Soraya’s husband and lies on behalf of other men in the town, Soraya is convicted of the crime and sentenced to be stoned to death.
Telling the story
Freidoune barely escapes with the recording of his interview with Zahra as the mullah orders a guard to stop him at gunpoint. But Zahra saves the day, and the hope of letting the whole world know what happened is realized.
The violence of the stoning scene at the end is quite unspeakable, and was certainly viewed not without tears, especially when Soraya’s two young boys throw stones at their own mother; however, the slow motion shots of Soraya being hit by stones were an unnecessary over-dramatization of something that is on its own very dramatic and horrible, and did not need any extra effects from Hollywood to make its point.
With the exception of that one bit of criticism, The Stoning of Soraya M tells a fascinating and true story that is definitely worth seeing.
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