Absorbing war tale of patience The Patience Stone (No Cert, IFI, 102 minutes)
Director: Atiq Rahimi.
Stars: Golshifteh Farahani, Hamid Djavadan, Hassina Burgan.
There's a heightened, almost theatrical feel to Atiq Rahimi's Patience Stone, an unusual and absorbing film set during one of his native Afghanistan's numerous recent wars.
Mr Rahimi has been living in Paris since the 1980s, and The Patience Stone is adapted from his own novel of the same name. Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani plays a beautiful but troubled young woman who's struggling to care for her sick husband and two children as the bombs drop ever closer. He is some kind of soldier, perhaps Mujahedeen, and has been left helpless and comatose after getting a bullet lodged in his neck.
It seems, initially, a touching scene, but as she washes and cares for him it gradually becomes clear that he was not the ideal partner. An arrogant and largely absent bully, he beat her and treated her with contempt and blamed her for not giving him a son. She hates him, but as she tends to him she finds catharsis by revealing all her secrets and telling him how she really feels.
Atiq Rahimi's film examines the grim position of women in Afghan society, which it seems is sometimes a notch below that of livestock, but also the unchanging human reality behind the repressive cant of a willful theocracy. And Golshifteh Farahani is very good in a role that effectively condemns her to lots of soliloquising.