The Stoning of Soraya M. (2009) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Stoning of Soraya M. (2009)



Critic Consensus: The Stoning of Soraya M. nearly transcends its deficiencies through the sheer strength of its subject material, but ultimately drowns out its message with an inappropriately heavy-handed approach.

Movie Info

Director Cyrus Nowrasteh teams with screenwriter Betsy Giffen Nowrasteh to illuminate the dangers of religious fundamentalism, gender apartheid, and mob rule with this fictionalized adaptation of Freidoune Sahebjam's best-selling novel centering on a true-life tragedy. The story takes place in 1986, just as Khomeini is coming into power in Iran. Undercover French journalist Freidoune Sahebjam (Jim Caviezel) is traveling though a small southwestern village when his car breaks down. Surrounded by strife but left with little choice other to wait until his car is repaired, the anxious Freidoune is soon approached by persistent local Zahra (Shohreh Aghdashloo), who convinces him to follow her into the courtyard behind her home. There, she reveals to him that she has just borne witness to a most heinous crime. Just the previous day, Zahra had watched the men or her town stone an innocent woman to death. That woman was Soraya (Mozhan MarnÚ), long-suffering wife of abusive tyrant Ali. Soraya wed Ali in an arranged marriage, never realizing the horrors that she and her children would endure under her husband's heavy hand. When Ali requested a divorce so that he would be free to marry a 14-year-old girl, Soraya boldly refused, knowing that she and the children would most certainly starve to death without a husband to support them. Ali was too poor to return Soraya's dowry as custom dictates in a divorce, but he found another way out of the marriage. Under Shariah law, adultery is a crime punishable by death if the accused is unable to prove her innocence. Scheming with the newly installed, counterfeit mullah, Ali accused his wife of adultery. In order to ensure that she had no chance of defending herself, he blackmailed several male villagers to testify on his behalf. A tribunal was quickly called, and Soraya's fate forever sealed. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovimore
Rating: R (for a disturbing sequence of cruel and brutal violence, and brief strong language)
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Betsy Giffen Nowrasteh, Cyrus Nowrasteh
In Theaters:
On DVD: Mar 9, 2010
Box Office: $0.5M
Roadside Attractions - Official Site


Jim Caviezel
as Freidoune Sahebjam
David Diaan
as Ebrahim
Vida Ghahremani
as Mrs. Massoud
Shima Poorsadeghi
as Second Woman
Salti Hasan
as Mrs. Hashem
Vachik Mangassarian
as Morteza Ramazani
Shukreyeh Thijeel
as Mourning Woman
Fadela Rashem
as Mourning Woman
Sabiha Faleh
as Mourning Woman
Zoro Shaswar
as Ali's Friend
Jalal Zadhaley
as Ali's Friend
Arash Kaftoesian
as Ali's Friend
Yousef Shwieyhat
as Ringmaster
Rami Hamati
as Circus Boy
Fadi Hamati
as Circus Boy
Asa'ad Arada
as Monkey Man
Zeid Al-Yasoufy
as Circus Drummer
Niayesh Fekni
as Servant Girl
Yasha Kate
as Servant Girl
Prasanna Puwanarajah
as Revolutionary Guard
Yahya Hussein
as Yahya Hussein
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Stoning of Soraya M.

Critic Reviews for The Stoning of Soraya M.

All Critics (83) | Top Critics (28)

Whatever its dramatic flaws, and they are many, this is a movie that, in essence, is more than a movie.

Full Review… | July 24, 2009
Christian Science Monitor
Top Critic

Take even a cursory look around the planet: unjust, senseless death is not going away anytime soon...

Full Review… | May 25, 2013

A strange and repugnant piece of work, half hot-button political propaganda and half sadomasochistic Outrage Porn.

Full Review… | August 26, 2011
East Bay Express

Though it is perfectly watchable, it latches onto the more simplistic domestic aspect of the story at the expense of exploring the more difficult and complex political issues that enable this sort of killing to come about in the first place.

Full Review… | October 22, 2010
Eye for Film

Nowrasteh's approach is hardly subtle, favouring didactic dialogue and overblown scoring. That said, a 20-minute stoning sequence possesses the shocking brutality of The Passion Of The Christ

Full Review… | October 21, 2010
Total Film

[A] well-intentioned, but laboured and woodenly acted film, based on a true story.

Full Review… | October 21, 2010

Audience Reviews for The Stoning of Soraya M.

Anyone interested in what goes on in religio-fascist cultures should see this horrifying and moving film about a woman tortured and ostracized for little reason other than that she's a woman. Powerful film.

Christian C

Super Reviewer

This movie portrays a moment in1986 in an area of the world able to uphold the social graces of the Old Testament era. It is here that women can be bartered into marriage by their parents at the age of 13. They can be accused of adultery and be burdened with proving their innocence rather than burdening the accuser with proof of guilt. Lastly, women convicted of adultery can be stoned to death by their village and adulterous pedophile husbands in the name of righteousness. The film doesn't do any more than furiously outline this infuriating story. There is no attempt to understand the deep-seated cultural influences that prevent these values from evolving. A 2010 Pew research poll of Arab nations found that 84% of Egyptians favored the death penalty for anyone who leaves Islam, 82% believed adulterers should be stoned to death, and 77% favored cutting off the hands of robbers. Where is the movie that at least attempts to explore why?

Matthew Slaven
Matthew Slaven

Super Reviewer


The Stoning of Soraya M. is a film that every one should see. It is an extremely powerful, shocking, heart-wrenching and unforgettable film that looks into rural Iranian life, and the horrifying fate a woman might be forced into. Shohreh Aghdashloo, Mozhan Marno and the rest of the cast deliver superb performances that should have gotten award attention. NOTE: This film contains a long and very graphic, disturbing stoning sequence.

Raymond Wieser
Raymond Wieser

Super Reviewer

The Stoning of Soraya M. Quotes

Zahra: Women are guilty, men are innocent. Isn't it so?
– Submitted by Iulian H (2 years ago)

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