Movie review: Afghan film “Patience Stone” tests viewers’

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From the October 10, 2013 edition

The Afghan drama “The Patience Stone” is adapted from a novel. That’s not unusual. What is unusual is that it is adapted for the screen and directed by the author of the novel, Atiq Rahimi.

This is both good news and bad news. The film carries the contemplative tone of a good book, although it lacks a strong narrative current that the film medium generally requires.

Set in an unnamed village in Afghanistan torn apart by Taliban rule, we meet a woman (Golshifteh Farahani) trying to care for an older husband (Hamidreza Javdan) who has been rendered comatose by a bullet.

As violence escalates, the children are sent away, leaving the woman alone with her husband. As he sits on in silence, her loneliness drives her to talk to him for hours, confessing things she never could say in their years together.

Rahimi may be working from a novel, but “Patience Stone” sometimes feels like it would work better as a stage production, as it is set mostly in a single room.

While there’s little flow to the narrative — and I found it occasionally strained credibility — there’s much to love in Farahani’s performance, which is key, as it is nearly a one-woman show.

As it dabbles in cultural and gender issues, I found myself wishing the film was as strong as the subject deserves. Maybe I’ll give the book a shot.