The Patience Stone Golshifteh Farahani, Hamidreza Javdan, Hassina Burgan. Directed by Atiq Rahimi. Rated R. Opens Friday.
Afghanistan’s official submission for this year’s Best Foreign Language Film Oscar (although it wasn’t nominated), The Patience Stone is a sometimes overly blunt fable about the plight of women in the war-torn Middle East. Its unnamed heroine (Golshifteh Farahani) keeps watch over her husband (Hamidreza Javdan), who lies in some sort of vegetative state with a bullet wound in his neck (his condition seems more allegorical than medical). As explosions and gunfire surround them, she unburdens herself to her husband, an abusive and neglectful man who now has no choice but to listen. Farahani carries the movie almost single-handedly, and her performance is remarkable. Even as the narrative sometimes becomes didactic, or when it takes a troubling turn toward the end, Farahani continues to be mesmerizing, raw and vulnerable. It’s an honest and very real performance at the heart of a movie that can be a little abstract.