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Brutal, but the story of Soyaya must be told - CinemaDave

Jul. 2nd, 2009 11:04 pm Brutal, but the story of Soyaya must be told

The Shohreh Aghdashloo story typifies the American Dream. Born in Tehran, Iran, Aghdashloo fled her homeland when Ayatollah Khomeini seized power in 1978. After fleeing to England, Shoreh earned a degree in International Relations and eventually moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting. Seven years ago, Shoreh was nominated for best supporting actress for her role in "The House of Sand and Fog" and she has become a favorite of both "The Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival" and "The Palm Beach International Film Festival" organizers.

While serving as a jurist for the recent "Palm Beach International Film Festival," Shoreh admitted that her latest movie, "The Stoning of Soyaya M." is a very personal film for her. It is no coincidence that "The Stoning of Soyaya M." was being released during the recent botched Iranian elections. As Shoreh said, “This is a story that needs to be told.”

James Caviezel portrays Freidoune, an international journalist whose car breaks down in a stark village. Freidoune is greeted by the Mayor and the town religious leader, who tells the journalist to ignore the crazy lady, Zahra (Aghdashloo). Zahra connects with Freidoune and she reveals an incident from the village from yesterday.

Like "I Want to Live" and "Dead Man Walking," a title like "The Stoning of Soyaya M." reveals the climax of the story, the systematic execution of a woman in modern day Iran. Director Cyrus Nowrasteh does not spare the viewer from the brutality of mob justice. Yet the most horrifying scenes of "The Stoning of Soryaya M." is the systematic madness that people use to justify stoning a woman in the middle of the town square.

"The Stoning of Soryaya" is a multilingual motion picture and the performers do an excellent job communicating universal truth. As the story teller, Shohreh Aghdashloo has the least showy role, but provides the maternal nerve and backbone. In a small but pivotal role, James Caviezel makes the most out of his cameo appearance.

The film belongs to young Mozhan Marnò, the actress who portrays Soryaya M. Marno’s performance runs the gamut of emotions from happiness to fear. The actress’ transition is believable and heartbreaking. Expect big things from this Los Angeles native in the future.

"The Stoning of Soryaya" presents the cultural dynamics between men and women in the middle east, a world far more removed than what popular culture seems to understand. It is a pity that such a film was not produced 5 years ago during the height of the Iraq War. Perhaps popular culture would have been more sympathetic to America’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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