REVIEW Given the recent events in Iran, the timing of The Stoning of Soraya M.'s release seems, well, perfect. The film may be set in 1986, but the message of resistance to political oppression couldn't be more relevant. This is a story about the importance of refusing to comply with unjust edicts, of the power one woman can have to make her voice heard. Sound familiar? But the movie is more than just its message: The Stoning of Soraya M. is effective because it's a well-made film. Director Cyrus Nowrasteh takes his source material (the book, itself based on a true story) and infuses it with a staggering cinematic reality. The audience feels dangerously close to the on-screen action, struggling to help, or at least look away, as the plot careens toward its inevitable conclusion. Credit is also due to the two women whose performances transform the film from sad to tragic. Mozhan Marnò is the titular Soraya, capturing the innocence and resilience of a woman doomed by circumstance. And veteran Iranian actor Shohreh Aghdashloo plays her aunt: stubborn, independent, and altogether human. The story even the title alone speaks for itself. But with these leads it becomes a powerful call to arms, leaving the kind of lasting impression few other movies can hope for.
THE STONING OF SORAYA M. opens Fri/26 in San Francisco.