The Stoning of Soraya M.

Movies, Drama
2 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars

The title invites all measure of “half-baked” jest, but after witnessing the horrifying case of Soraya Manutchehri (Marnò), any guffaws are likely to stick in the throat. An Iranian housewife falsely accused of adultery, Manutchehri was stoned to death in her rural village in 1986. French-Iranian writer Freidoune Sahebjam—played here, in an awkward framing device, by Christ on the cross James Caviezel—got ahold of the story and turned it into a best-selling exposé. This film adaptation is a well-made bit of prestigery, one that benefits from the performances of Shohreh Aghdashloo as Soraya’s aunt Zahra, who tells the tale in flashback, and Marnò, who lends her character an intense, haunted dignity.

Yet The Stoning of Soraya M. goes off the rails long before the Karo syrup starts gushing Monty Python–style. It’s a big ol’ wallow in unpleasantness, a film that relies on simplistically patriarchal antagonists and vague, wet-willie cries for intervention. Similarly, Caviezel’s “man of action!” heroics make for an ill fit with Aghdashloo’s abrasively solemn remembrances. The latter unfortunately call to mind Roger Ebert’s complaint about Jaws the Revenge, namely that a film’s heroine could not possibly be “haunted by flashbacks to events where she was not present.” Guess the writers’ room had a bit too much Mary Jane on hand.



Release details

Release date:
Friday June 26 2009
116 mins

Cast and crew

Cyrus Nowrasteh
Cyrus Nowrasteh, Betsy Giffen Nowrasteh
Shohreh Aghdashloo
Mozhan Marnò
James Caviezel
Navid Negahban
Ali Pourtash
David Diaan

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