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The Stoning of Soraya M. (2009)


Average Rating: 6/10
Reviews Counted: 83
Fresh: 47
Rotten: 36

Critics 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.

Average Rating: 5.8/10
Reviews Counted: 29
Fresh: 15
Rotten: 14

Critics 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.


Average Rating: 4.1/5
User Ratings: 6,516


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 … More

R (for a disturbing sequence of cruel and brutal violence, and brief strong language)
Directed By:
Written By:
Cyrus Nowrasteh , Betsy Giffen Nowrasteh
In Theaters:
Mar 9, 2010
Box Office:
Roadside Attractions - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for The Stoning of Soraya M.

All Critics (84) | Top Critics (29) | Fresh (47) | Rotten (36) | DVD (2)

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

Despite some wonderful performances, the plot plods inexorably and with sickening predictability towards the inevitable conclusion, but nothing can prepare us for the actual event, which Nowrasteh films in real time and in shocking detail.

Full Review… | July 17, 2009
Toronto Star
Top Critic

Though The Stoning of Soraya M.' s heart is in the right place, its head is lost in storm clouds of anger.

Full Review… | July 17, 2009
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

The spoiler is in the title of The Stoning of Soraya M., a powerful, relentlessly brutal drama about Iranian capital punishment.

Full Review… | July 16, 2009
Seattle Times
Top Critic

Although The Stoning is efficiently made, it is ultimately a cheat.

Full Review… | July 16, 2009
Arizona Republic
Top Critic

This broadside against sharia law lacks the finesse of an import, but it's effectively melodramatic, particularly because of the strong performance of Iranian-born actress Shoreh Aghdashloo

Full Review… | July 16, 2009
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
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

This is The Wicker Man but with scary English country folks replaced with the supposed Axis of Evil.

October 21, 2010
Little White Lies

This harrowing film spares no physical or emotional detail.

Full Review… | October 13, 2010
Financial Times

With the melancholy cry of a sad cello, the film opens with a golden sun rising over the hills of a remote Iran landscape...It's a devastating story, powerfully told

Full Review… | May 29, 2010
Urban Cinefile

The long, shockingly barbaric stoning sequence near the film's climax is indeed grueling, and the film's depiction of the events leading up to it paint a horrifying picture of the powerlessness of women in rural Iran in this period.

Full Review… | May 27, 2010

This film is by no means a cinematic masterpiece, but Aghdashloo's strong performance holds the film together.

Full Review… | May 27, 2010

The Stoning Of Soraya M. hits you in the gut. It's a phenomenal piece of cinema, but there are many who will read about it and think, "I don't need to go there."

Full Review… | May 25, 2010
FILMINK (Australia)

Preachy outrage and clunky execution deplete a vital decrying of misogyny.

Full Review… | May 24, 2010
Empire Magazine Australasia

A film that may become a little preachy but nonetheless asserts itself as an important document for the world's attention.

Full Review… | May 23, 2010
Concrete Playground

Undermined by a weak, phony-feeling ending, Cyrus Nowrasteh's film is nevertheless a pitiless study of moral cowardice.

Full Review… | March 13, 2010
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

This film is eye-opening and heart-draining and it is excellently produced.This is a very good film, but it is hard for me to chirp "check it out" because it will stick with you, twisting in your stomach and making your life's petty annoyances feel less t

Full Review… | December 15, 2009

Does not make for good drama or entertainment, but it eerily elicits a strange power that says a lot about human rights violations throughout the world.

Full Review… | December 14, 2009
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Anchored by a terrific performance by Shohreh Aghdashloo, The Stoning of Soraya M explores the disturbing lives of women in the more radical regions of the Middle East.

Full Review… | December 12, 2009
Cinema Sight

This movie is well acted, directed, edited and filmed, however, it is also depressing, uninspiring and sickening. Like a glacier, it moves slowly and inexorably towards its final conclusion.

Full Review… | December 3, 2009
Laramie Movie Scope

The story is simple and compelling and the title leaves no doubt where the story is going. This is a powerful film for those willing to see its extreme violence.

Full Review… | October 20, 2009

The film does have a certain crude power. But that's part of the problem with it: It's too crude.

Full Review… | September 2, 2009
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

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. tells the story of a woman whose husband conspires to convict her of adultery. The isolated village strictly follows traditional Islamic law, and as a result of her husband's conspiracy, Soraya is brutally stoned.
The performances by Jim Caviezel, Shohreh Aghdashloo, and Mozhan Marno are all quite strong, and it has been a long time since I've seen anything as blood-curdlingly sick as the stoning sequence. It is appropriately hard to watch.
Despite how well-made the film may be, it never rises to anything more than a harsh polemic. Even a first-year journalism student would realize that the story, as it is presented in the film, is based only on one biased source, and she wasn't present at many of the most damning conversations. I haven't read the book, so I'm not in a position to truly doubt this story's veracity, but it was incumbent upon the director to present the story more credibly.
Additionally, this event allegedly occurred in 1986; the book was published in 1990; why is it that the film doesn't come out until 2008? Gramsci might say that cultural artifacts "spontaneously" appear as a result of the then-contemporary political climate. He doesn't suggest that there's any type of conspiracy, but it does strike me as odd that this film finds a receptive audience during a time when U.S. foreign policy was rattling its saber at Iran and vice versa.
Overall, this is a well-made film, but it's polemic as hell. You may find yourself agreeing with its political message, and to the degree that I whole-heartedly support women's rights, so do I, but Western audiences should be careful not to conflate what occurred in a remote village in Iran during the '80s with Islam or all of present-day Iran.

Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

The Stoning of Soraya M. Quotes

Women are guilty, men are innocent. Isn't it so?
– Submitted by Iulian H (7 months ago)

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