From a producer of THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST comes this chilling true story. Academy Award® nominee Shorheh Aghdashloo stars as Zahra, a woman with a burning secret. When a journalist (Jim Caviezel) is stranded in her remote village, Zahra takes a bold chance to reveal what the villagers will stop at nothing to hide. Thus begins the story of Soraya (Mozhan Marnò), a kind woman whose cruel, divorce- seeking husband trumps up false charges of infidelity against her, which carry an unimaginable penalty. Soraya and Zahra attempt to navigate the villagers’ scheming, lies and deceit to prove her innocence. But when all else fails, Zahra must risk everything to use the only weapon she has left – her voice – to share Soraya's shocking story with the world.
In the most powerful motion pictures, the message tends to be embedded so deeply that it isn't always apparent at first glance. In The Stoning of Soraya M., the point of the project--to bring a heinous cultural practice to light--drowns out all other concerns. The film is based on Iranian journalist Freidoune Sahebjam’s international bestselling non-fiction book of the same title. Sahebjam (played by Jim Caviezel, in a framing device) stumbles across the story in 1986 when his car breaks down in a remote Iranian village and he meets Zahra (House of Sand and Fog's Shohreh Aghdashloo), who begs him to tell the world what happened to her niece, Soraya. After 21 years of marriage, Soraya's abusive husband, Ali, falls in love with a 14-year-old, but Soraya (Mozhan Marnò) resists divorce for fear he'll leave her penniless, so Ali falsely accuses her of infidelity, convinces the town elders to get on board, and the mayor sentences her to death by stoning. Though Cyrus Nowrasteh directs, The Passion of the Christ producer Steven McEveety's guiding hand is keenly felt as a blameless individual must suffer for the sins of others, but the film would generate more sympathy and outrage if the characters registered as vividly as the message (see Silkwood for a superior example of character-based outrage). The actors, including Caviezel--affecting a passable accent--invest their mono-dimensional roles with conviction, but this literary adaptation would've worked better as a documentary that examines the history of honor killings, including the legal and political repercussions. --Kathleen C. Fennessy