The Stoning of Soraya M. (2009)

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AUDIENCE SCORE

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.

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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 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 Marnò), 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, Rovi
Rating:
R (for a disturbing sequence of cruel and brutal violence, and brief strong language)
Genre:
Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
 wide
On DVD:
Box Office:
$519,730.00
Runtime:
Studio:

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Cast

David Diaan
as Ebrahim
Ali Pourtash
as Mullah
Vida Ghahremani
as Mrs. Massoud
Mozhan Marnò
as Soraya
Parviz Sayyad
as Hashem
Vachik Mangassarian
as Morteza Ramazani
Noor Al Taher
as Kataneh
Haya Al Taher
as Malaka
Khalid Khan
as Warden
Shima Poorsadeghi
as Second Woman
Salti Hasan
as Mrs. Hashem
Laila Qutub
as Mehri
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
Jim Caviezel
as Freidoune Sahebjam
Prasanna Puwanarajah
as Revolutionary Guard
Asa'ad Arada
as Monkey Man
Zeid Al-Yasoufy
as Circus Drummer
Niayesh Fekni
as Servant Girl
Yasha Kate
as Servant Girl
Yahya Hussein
as Yahya Hussein
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Critic Reviews for The Stoning of Soraya M.

All Critics (82) | 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 23, 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 16, 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.

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

July 15, 2009
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic

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
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

½

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

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