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113 of 118 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, it shows what stoning really is
This is a very well acted and compelling movie. I've seen videos of real life stonings, and although somewhat cleaned up, this movie gives a realistic face to the act.

The actors do an exceptional job at portraying the characters. Shohreh conveys with a single look, what other actress's take sentences to do. That's a real feat considering I had to read the...
Published on June 28, 2009 by Paul

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars I just don't like when writers and directors viillianize people
It appeals to the emotions the way it was directed; maybe even the way it was writen was that way. I just don't like when writers and directors viillianize people; they don't allow you to decide who is the victim/ villian
Published 1 month ago by Kristen A. Cotton


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113 of 118 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, it shows what stoning really is, June 28, 2009
By 
Paul "Paul" (Bloomington, MN) - See all my reviews
This is a very well acted and compelling movie. I've seen videos of real life stonings, and although somewhat cleaned up, this movie gives a realistic face to the act.

The actors do an exceptional job at portraying the characters. Shohreh conveys with a single look, what other actress's take sentences to do. That's a real feat considering I had to read the words in subtitles at the same time!

The movie also shows what a mob mentality really is. What pressure and teaching can compel a son to do to his mother...it shows what strength really is- not being the hero like in most movies, but in what it takes in the real world, to simply speak the truth. A strength that most people don't have.

As cleaned up as it is (the movie does not deal with the underlining condoning of stoning in Islam such Muhammad demanding it in his famous confrontation with the Jews according to Ibn Ishaq, 257 and Bukhari vol 4 book 61, no. 3635- they are his first biographer, and a collector off traditions Muslims themselves consider reliable)-This movie does however show a present day reality that I fear most viewers won't have the strength to really see.

Watch this movie, and then watch how few people are even willing to talk about the subjects it brings up- how many excuses and side steps people will take, rather than confront the reality that this movie throws in your face.

It is one of the few movies that show human nature- the good, the bad and the ugly. From looters, to the ones who confront them. This movie does more in the side plots showing human psychology, than most other movies that try to protray it as a main subject matter.

In short, this is a must see, if nothing else to better understand a dark side of the world.
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51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and unforgettable., March 18, 2010
By 
Anne Rice (Palm Desert, California) - See all my reviews
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Like many an excellent film, this one is difficult to watch, but well worth it. It is a fine film that should be supported, and circulated, and admired. It derives it's power from its clear and shocking narrative and from the outstanding performances of its cast, and its unsparing attention to the suffering of Soraya M. who is stoned to death in her village in Iran. The fact that people are being stoned today in a number of countries is as horrifying as it is true. What can we do to stop this barbaric practice? What can we do to support the women in these countries who cannot defend themselves against laws that denigrate their value and impose upon them unfair standards for their defense in criminal proceedings? --- This is a brave film for focusing on one such case, and the egregious cruelty heaped on the victim. And it leaves the viewer wondering what a stoning means for all the people of a village who participate in it, including children who gather the stones. Whatever one thinks about these basic questions, one can be assured that this is first and foremost a good movie, with high productions standards --- worth seeing, worth owning, worth passing on to others. Highly recommended.
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51 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spellbinding and Compelling, July 9, 2009
By 
Kale (SF Bay Area) - See all my reviews
This movie is a must see and one of the best movies I have seen in a long, long time.

The direction is fabulous and makes one feels that he is standing next to the movie characters. The acting is great, the casting superb, the location and costumes are true. It was 100% great.

It stirred emotions to my core and my mind raced during the film. The subtlety of the acting made the horrific event all the more compelling. The actual stoning made me feel as if in the crowd and then, suddenly, I was Soraya. It was unbelievable.

The acting is superb and real. I think all must see this movie so all will know how extremism can be deadly whether in faith or in laws. The whole world should see this movie.

Too bad it's not showing in mainstream theaters.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent film with a very important message!, January 14, 2010
"The Stoning of Soraya M." is a must see film on all levels. This film is even more stunning on Blu-ray high definition and will leave you speechless. Tastefully done, director Cyrus Nowrasteh has made one of the most important films ever to be made about the inequalities in the Middle East.

[...]

Freidoune Sahebjam, a French-Iranian journalist (played in film by Jim Caviezel), wrote The Stoning of Soraya M which is based on his own experience of being forced to stop in a remote Iranian village after his car broke down. He was one of the first to report on the troubles in the Bahá'í Faith community in Iran.

While waiting for his broken car to be fixed, Freidoune is approached by Zahra (Shohreh Aghdashloo) who is the aunt of Soraya. Zahra notices that Freidoune has a tape recorder and asks to speak with him. The townspeople assure him that she is crazy but he humors her anyway. Once the recorder is placed on the table, Zahra begins telling her nightmarish story.

Soraya (played by the beautiful Mozhan Marnò) is a married mother of three in the film (six in real life). Needless to say her plate is full. Her unfaithful husband Ali (Navid Negahban) has fallen for another woman and doesn't want to wait for a timely divorce. He decides to find the quickest way to get rid of her and cooks up a dishonest scheme to get Soraya convicted of adultery, a crime punishable by death in their twisted culture.

Ali, with the help of others, takes advantage of a vulnerable local mechanic (Ebrahim, played by David Diaan) whose wife has just died. They offer to pay Soraya to cook for Ebrahim and take care of his children while he is working. This provided "legitimate" grounds to pressure other men to be witnesses for the prosecution.

Based on the descriptive title of the film, we know the outcome, which could lead one to believe that this could easily be another snuff film like The Passion of the Christ. A short build up with 90 minutes of grotesque torture. Thanks to the wonderful direction of Cyrus Nowrasteh this is not the case. While the climactic stoning itself is difficult to watch, it is less than a quarter of the film.

The bulk of the film focused on giving us a sense of the people in this community and the corruption that it breeds. While keeping the actual stoning to a minimum, the film gives us an important window into an overlooked part of the world. However uncomfortable it is, we feel as if we are in this town watching the story unfold. Several people in the audience behind me could be heard uttering passionate reactions throughout.

What makes Soraya M enjoyable (and even the hardest scenes bearable) is that our frustrations are released through Zahra's vocal opposition. She is an outspoken female opponent to the misogynist culture in which she resides. At one point she is told, "muzzles should be for women, not dogs." With a reaction like that we know she is saying the right things to upset the right people. The rest of the women in town are either indoctrinated into believing they are worthless or intimidated into silence. Without Zahra's presence the film would be torturous to watch.

Interestingly, by doing a simple search on the Internet I was able to find an awkward amount of reviews unfairly criticizing this film as either anti-Iranian propaganda or a manipulative melodrama. The people who believe this must be the same who subscribe to the idea that "terrorists are people too."

Even Roger Ebert blasted the director because the film ends on a positive note that he finds corny. An important film like this must have some element that is redeeming. If we all leave feeling awful we will never want to watch the film again (nor recommend it to others).

Instead, Soraya M ends on a positive note and allows us to leave the film scarred but hopeful that people are speaking out about the oppression of women in the Middle East (women's groups where are you?).

Many may not know that while this film is based on a true story, most of the actors are Iranian natives who fled years ago (including the outspoken Shohreh Aghdashloo). This adds an important element of realism to the film that helps expose a part of the world that is too often referred to or assumed as a peaceful.

This film has not yet had a wide enough release. Unfortunately, it is harder than it should be to get distribution for a film that is emphatically for the protection of women in a part of the world that leaves them helpless. Coming to DVD on March 9th, "The Stoning of Soraya M" is a must see!!
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47 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This movie is very powerful and must be seen by all., November 6, 2009
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This film was released in a limited number of theaters. That was a shame because it is truely a must see movie. We took our teen daughters to go see this movie because of its true look at the treatment of many women in the middle east.

So often the arguemnet for not going to see a movie such as this one,is that it would be too hard to watch. I find it so strange how many of those same people will go to see movies such as "The Saw" or "Freddy Krueger Movies",that are horribily violent and goory and have no redemptive value what so ever. When I saw this movie, it was if I was right there with them. This is a movie that you really need to see and take your teens to go see. They need to wake up now, and appreciate the country they live in.

Get this dvd and pass it along to others or like I plan to do, buy an extra copy for someone else.

Mary
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Words cannot describe..., July 31, 2009
...the raw power of The Stoning of Soraya M. Films like these are far and few and I can't stress its importance amidst the current political climate enough. Get out to your local theater and see the movie. Get involved with the cause to stop stoning in any corner of the earth where it might still exist. This is an amazing film with an important message. Undoubtedly a must-see.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable, March 5, 2010
By 
Bigshaker (Los Angeles CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Stoning of Soraya M (DVD)
I can guarantee that this will be one of the most powerful, riveting, important films you've ever seen or ever will see. I know people who have told me their lives were literally changed by it. DO NOT be put off by what you may think is the gruesomeness of the subject matter; yes, this compelling tale is horrifying (though not as horrifying as the reality of stoning), but is also surprisingly uplifting and even laced with moments of beauty. I promise that you will not regret owning this film.

As other reviewers have pointed out, the direction by screenwriter/director Cyrus Nowrasteh is outstanding and the acting is Oscar-worthy throughout - and not just by Shohreh Aghdashloo (who plays Soraya's aunt) or Mozhan Marno (Soraya). Navid Negahban is one of the all-time best cinematic bad guys as Soraya's ruthless husband.

This is based on a true story that took place in the decade or so after the Khomeini revolution in Iran in 1979, but astonishing as it may be to believe, stonings still take place there despite an ostensible 2002 "moratorium" - just as they continue to take place in other places where sharia law rules: Nigeria, Somalia, Indonesia, etc. So this movie is more timely and necessary than ever. Don't miss it.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Anguished Cry Against Fundamentalism.., March 23, 2010
By 
I have seen two films about the life of women under Islamic fundamentalism: "Osama" about life under the pre 9/11 Taliban rule in Afghanistan, a film made by Afghanis; and now, "The Stoning of Soraya M." based on the true story and book by an expat Iranian journalist, and the film also involving many expat Iranians, about the early rule of the Ayotollahs after the fall of the Shah. Both are chilling, sobering, and despairing accounts of the lives of women who have few rights and virtually no say in their own destinies.

As Soraya is told in this film, in accusations of adultery the woman "must prove her innocence" but if accusing her husband she "must prove his guilt". This is the hypocritical and pardoxical world women find themselves when a society turns to a fundamentalism and fanatacism that denies them full legal and moral standing.

It would be almost impossible to believe that a barbaric punishment like stoning would actually take place in the 21st century. And yet I have seen actual documentary footage of it, in today's Iran. Who would have believed we would see beheadings, and all the other forms of 12th century barbarism reappear in our age?

I don't need to tell you this story. The title tells you where it is going, and you can be sure that injustice is woven throughout this tragic story. The debasement of Islam, the confining of the society in the name of religion, the double standards applied to men and women, the intimidation of basically good people by the pressure and fear demanding conformity, the corruption of law and justice. These themes present themselves as we watch the inevitable unfold inexorably leading to tragedy.

The actors are all fine, and the filmmakers have wisely told this story straight, without hysteria and amplification, but simply, directly and straight as a gut punch. And the ending is as terrible as one imagines, presented in all its brutality but with as much restraint as the filmmakers could manage without denying the truth of this terrible torture/punishment.

And in the end the courageous aunt of Soraya who has defied the conventions and corruption of power that has brought this about shouts to the heavens that the world will know of this! This film didn't do much at the box office, but it is now on DVD and one can hope it will reach the world now. Everyone should see this film and the others that cry out at the injustice and brutality that is daily delivered to women all over the world, from the Middle East to Asia to Africa. The world will never sort itself while women are brutalised, enslaved, degraded and ultimately tortured and murdered.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Story That Needs To Be Told, March 14, 2010
By 
S. Peek (Rocky Mountains, USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Stoning of Soraya M (DVD)
'The Stoning of Soraya M' is very intense and barbaric.

It tells the true story of a young wife and mother in rural Iran. Her husband wants to divorce her so he can marry his 14 year old girlfriend. Soraya (the wife) refuses the divorce, but that is not the end of the story.

Ali (the husband) concocts a plan to falsely accuse her of adultery, a capital crime under Sharia law. This would be a rough one to watch if it were just fiction. As it depicts real events, it is beyond horrific.

The movie is well acted and very intense. It is a story that needs to be seen by everyone who has concerns about the outrageous abuses of Sharia law under fundamentalist Islamic governments.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Barbaric, March 11, 2010
This review is from: The Stoning of Soraya M (DVD)
The title of this review is the word that ran through my mind while watching a woman being pelted with stones.

The title of the movie itself, tells you what this story is about. It left me wanting to know more about Zahra, what happened to her? The actual stoning of Soraya, Zahra's niece, occurred within a 24 hour period of when the journalist came to town. For Zahra to have verbally conveyed all of this information in such a short amount of time, it's amazing. What happened to Zahra? Did the village idiots stone her as well? I didnt have a chance to watch the extra features on the dvd, perhaps my answer was there.

I felt the movie was well done because it captured the mindless frenzy and bloodlust that you would think a crowd of idiots would have. Because you have to be an idiot to stand by and participate, cheer on, and watch a woman being pelted with stones until she's dead. When you watch TV and you see riots or people going berserk as a crowd, when you watch pandemonium on the news....the director of this movie captured that crazy, bloodlust, sicko mentality. It's craziness.

There is a saying that water is more powerful than a stone, and in this movie, I felt that Zahra in this case was the feminine energy in the village. And when confronted with masculine energy, how could she fight masculine energy one on one? How does water fight rock? It doesnt, it finds another path, and that's what Zahra did. Zahra's resolve in knowing right from wrong, that moment of truth and clarity (I believe she had to have had it), is what made her more powerful in the end.

At the end of the movie, my question as an audience was, what can I do? How can this never happen again? Seriously.
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The Stoning of Soraya M
The Stoning of Soraya M by Cyrus Nowrasteh (DVD - 2010)
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