Monday, December 7, 2015

The Patience Stone, directed by Atiq Rahimi

The Patience Stone
Afghanistan (Dari), 2012
102 min, drama, war, psychological
Directed by Atiq Rahimi
Starring Golshifteh Farahani

When her warrior husband is shot in the back of the neck, leaving him unconscious, a woman must care for him as much as possible while in the middle of a war zone. While she takes care of him, she is surprised to find herself confessing everything to him, telling him everything about her cares and desires – even about her sexual explorations - for the first time.

Woman’s roles

The most striking thing about this film is the way women’s roles are depicted. This woman is a good wife – she was engaged to her husband since childhood, married his dagger while he was at war, gave him two children, and is now taking care of him while he is in a coma, despite the risk to herself. She is devoted to him as a good wife should be, begging him not to leave her alone.

At the same time, she has been abandoned by his family. When he was injured, his mother and brothers did not help at all. They left her behind to take care of her husband, knowing that their neighborhood was going to be an active war zone. She quickly runs out of money and has to take refuge with her own aunt. While she fulfills her wifely role to the letter, she is apparently seen as disposable by the rest of her husband’s family.

Sexual awakening

Because it renders him a silent witness, her husband’s coma allows her to openly talk about sex for the first time. She talks about her experiences with masturbation, her bad memories of their first night together, and about her brothers-in-law masturbating while staring at her in the shower. Her husband was barely around and he had no desire to learn from her, so he was never able to satisfy her sexually.

And then a strange thing happens. After she lies to some fighters about being a prostitute, one of them comes back and rapes her, giving her money. This a terrifying experience; she tries to cleanse herself while crying in the shower. The next time the fighter comes, she agrees to have sex for money again, and discovers that he actually wants to learn and will listen to what she wants to teach him. She teaches him about sex, and actually enjoys it. This happens a few times, and her improved mood is reflected in her face and body language. For the first time, she is smiling and looks relaxed and comfortable. And, more importantly, she looks confident in herself. This experience has made her come out of her shell and she realizes that it really is possible to enjoy a sexual relationship.

This is a gorgeous film. I particularly like the moments of everyday life interspersed into the otherwise bloody, terrifying narrative. The woman’s practiced hand at putting her burka on when she leaves the house. Going out to buy food and continuing to do so despite witnessing a shooting.

I highly recommend this film to anyone with an interest in gorgeous storytelling or psychology.

Further Reading: 

"Interview: Atiq Rahimi (The Patience Stone)" by Yama Rahimi (ion Cinema)  

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