The Patience Stone (2012) — Afghanistan
Somewhere in a war-torn village in the Middle East — we're never told where, a young woman keeps vigil over her husband who's in a coma after taking a bullet to the neck in an argument about male honor. The husband becomes her "patience stone" — a magical black stone that, in Persian mythology, "absorbs the plight of those who confide in it." She pours out her anger, resentments, and secrets to her mute husband in ways she never could have if he was conscious. This set-up provides the director, Atiq Rahimi, a French-Afghan writer and filmmaker, the occasion to explore Muslim gender roles. The young woman's aunt remarks, "those who don't know how to make love make war." Male sexual repression is the cause of many Middle East problems here. The wife and her aunt recount family stories of sexual abuse. The movie is based upon Rahimi's novel of the same name, which won the 2008 Goncourt Prize, the most prestigious book award in France, and which has been translated into 33 languages. In Persian with English subtitles.