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Jeremy Piven-looking Brandon Darby is an ever-present if somewhat slippery narrator of his own dramatic political about-face. He went from way-left community organizer in post-Katrina New Orleans to an informant who helped the FBI build a case against two young protesters at the 2008 GOP convention in St. Paul, both of whom went to prison for making (but not using) Molotov cocktails.
Anyone interested in movement politics in the 21st century will get plenty to ponder in this well-made doumentary.
THE PATIENCE STONE
⋆⋆⋆ out of four stars
Rated: R for sexual content, some violence and language.
An unnamed woman (Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani) lives in a small house behind a walled courtyard, where she has two young daughters and a husband. He is lying comatose, a bullet in his neck, a tube with serum going into his mouth. The man (Hamidrez Javdan — not exactly a fun part) is much older. She was 17 when she married him — or married a photograph of him. He was away.
And now, in this quietly fierce condemnation of fundamentalist Muslim society’s treatment of women, she begins to speak truths she dared not utter when he was awake. “The Patience Stone,” adapted from the Atiq Rahimi novel and directed by the author — aided by Thierry Arbogast’s remarkable cinematography — finds the woman telling her husband about the men who fathered her daughters, because he was impotent. She talks of her longings, her rage. After weeks of these confessions, something stirs, breaks free. She meets a soldier (Massi Mrowat), and they make love.
Although the country goes unnamed in this powerful, parable-like film, it is clearly Afghanistan, torn by war, and dominated by men, by mullahs.
What comes across more than anything — in Farahani’s character, in the wisdom and wild humor displayed by her aunt (Hassina Burgan) — is the resilience of women. Beneath the hijabs and the burqas that conceal them, a spirit burns fast and strong.
Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer