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The Stoning of Soraya M. (2009)



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

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
Critic Reviews: 29
Fresh: 15 | Rotten: 14

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.



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Average Rating: 4.1/5
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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



Betsy Giffen Nowrasteh, Cyrus Nowrasteh

Mar 9, 2010


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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.

July 24, 2009 Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor
Christian Science Monitor
Top Critic IconTop 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.

July 17, 2009 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
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Though The Stoning of Soraya M.' s heart is in the right place, its head is lost in storm clouds of anger.

July 17, 2009 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

July 16, 2009 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

July 16, 2009 Full Review Source: Arizona Republic
Arizona Republic
Top Critic IconTop 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

July 16, 2009 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

May 25, 2013 Full Review Source: JWR

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

August 26, 2011 Full Review Source: East Bay Express | Comments (2)
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.

October 22, 2010 Full Review Source: Eye for Film
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

October 21, 2010 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

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

October 21, 2010 Full Review Source: Guardian

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.

October 13, 2010 Full Review Source: Financial Times
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

May 29, 2010 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
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.

May 27, 2010 Full Review Source:

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

May 27, 2010 Full Review Source: Trespass

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."

May 25, 2010 Full Review Source: FILMINK (Australia)
FILMINK (Australia)

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

May 24, 2010 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine Australasia
Empire Magazine Australasia

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

May 23, 2010 Full Review Source: Concrete Playground
Concrete Playground

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

March 13, 2010 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
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

December 15, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinerina

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.

December 14, 2009 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews | Comments (3)
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.

December 12, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinema Sight
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.

December 3, 2009 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope | Comments (3)
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.

October 20, 2009 Full Review

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

September 2, 2009 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC) | Comments (2)
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.
March 29, 2013

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?
March 3, 2013
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.
April 16, 2011
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.
January 30, 2011
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

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

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