image002Having turned in an immensely empathetical performance in Asghar Farhadi’s About Elly, talented Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani now stars in a film equally as poignant with yet another absorbing lead performance, in Atiq Rahimi’s The Patience Stone, based on the director’s very own novel. However despite the melancholy that prevails within this drama, there is something uplifting and inspiring about this tale, as watch on as a lonely woman finds her voice in spite of the desolation that surrounds her.

Set in a war torn nation, Farahani plays ‘the woman’ – who devotes her life to caring after her husband (Hamid Djavadan), who lays in a motionless, vegetative state in a derelict room, following a bullet to the neck. Though struggling to make ends meet – also looking after two daughters in the process, the woman finds solace in finally being able to say things she’d never had the courage to say, despite being married for ten years. Now, speaking to this unresponsive, lifeless body, she recounts her regrets, her most precious secrets, her dreams, and her personal suffering, as this woman finds comfort in such tragic circumstances, in what is a therapeutical act. As she says herself, she feels delivered of a burden, revealing secrets and hidden thoughts she’d kept locked up forever.

The Patience Stone is an unrelenting piece of cinema, beginning much as it intends to carry on, as an intense, emotional affair with little respite, profoundly portraying how these people have become so normalised to violence and war, and simply live in and around it. There is a volatility to this picture, as the line between everyday life and then instant death is blurred, as we move between mundanity and potential fatality, while the deafening and unanticipated sound of bombs makes for a tense backdrop. It’s also fascinating how the war being depicted and the location of our protagonists are kept somewhat ambiguous. This technique works well as rather than delve into the political issues that exist, or scrutinise over a particular war, instead this allows for the emphasis to remain on our protagonist and her predicament, remaining intimate throughout. Such ambiguity extends to our lead characters, both of whom remain nameless. We may delve into this elusive figure’s past and explore all of her deepest secrets, yet we never find out what she’s called.

It’s intriguing for our entry point into this culture being that of a woman too, who, in certain cultures, are less valued than their male counterparts, instantly adding a fragility to our protagonist, as her courage in finding the confidence to say things she has always wanted to say, is enhanced by this social barricade that represses her. Our leading lady, in this instance, almost represents all women who aren’t allowed to speak their mind, portraying how invigorating and freeing it is when being able to do so. She’s an empathetical lead and her patience and devotion to her family is inspiring. She remains strong, and never once plays the victim, despite the circumstances. Meanwhile, the candid shots of her doing mundane activities, like showering and getting changed in the morning, help to create this intimate bond between the audience and character.

Farahani is simply stunning too, showing off her incredible ability to be so earnest and emotional in just her eyes. She plays melancholy so compassionately and sincerely. It’s imperative that she is so alluring too, as this is effectively a one woman show, as despite the consistent presence of her husband, she is ultimately acting all on her own, with a series of powerful monologues, allowing her the opportunity to show off her incredible range. With a couple of substantial Hollywood roles forthcoming, it seems this is an actress we’ll be seeing a lot more of, which, on this evidence, is by no means a bad thing.