2009-07-17 / Entertainment/Lifestyles

MovieScope

'The Stoning Of Soraya M'. - Outrage In Iran
By Robert Snyder

It is not often that a film is so disturbing that you must exit the rear door so patrons in the lobby won't see you crying uncontrollably.

That happened after viewing "The Stoning of Soraya M." While I, too was upset, my girlfriend was affected to the point that she asked to leave from the back.

And, with good reason.

Based on a true story about a 1986 incident in the village of Kupayeh in southwestern Iran, "Stoning" dramatizes the legal lynching of wife and mother Soraya M.(Mozhan Marno), whose whore-mongering husband, Ali (Navid Negahban), falsely accuses her of adultery.

Why? He wants to get rid of her to marry a 14-year-old girl. He rallies the corrupt local officials to hold a quick kangaroo court and convict her of the crime.

The sentencing is instantaneous, but not the stoning. Ominously clicking rocks, the villagers parade Soraya through the streets to a freshly dug hole, where she is put, standing up, her waist, arms bound. The stones are hurled by the incensed mob, which includes her father and two sons. For 20 minutes, we get to see Soraya's graphic, bloody death. It is depicted much the like that of Jesus in Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ," which shared the same co-producer, Stephen McEveety. Yet, as gruesome as it is, I'm sure that Soraya's actual execution was far worse.

The "ever-compassionate" Iranians don't have the decency to bury the poor woman. Her body is left near a river for wild dogs to devour.

However, two voices of sanity do emerge from this mess: Soraya's aunt, Zahra (Shohreh Aghdashloo of "House of Sand and Fog"), and the Paris-based Iranian journalist Freidoune Sahebjam (Jim Caviezel, who played Jesus in "The Passion of the Christ"). The sole defender of her niece throughout the ordeal, Zahra catches the attention of en-route Sahjebam, awaiting the repair of his broken car. She surreptitiously allows the reporter to taperecord her horrific story, which eventually becomes the bestseller on which the movie is based.

Effectively shot by Director Cyrus Nowrasteh in a secret location to avoid reprisals, "Stoning" is a fierce indictment of Iran, which still subverts Islamic law to accomplish acts of selfishness. If such people control the oilrich country, our President best be careful in his proposed negotiations with them. Though not for the squeamish, "The Stoning of Soraya M." must be seen…and soon.

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