Set in an unidentified war-torn country that could well be Afghanistan, The Patience Stone is adapted from Afghan director Atiq Rahimi’s novel, with a screen-play by Jean-Claude Carrière. According to Persian myth, you can tell your deepest secrets to a patience stone. Eventually the stone will shatter into pieces, but the confessor will be set free from their mental and spiritual burdens.

Golshifteh Farhani plays the young, unnamed wife who realises that her personal “patience stone” is her much older husband. He lies in a coma, she tells him things. The one-time war hero has been shot in the neck, following a row over an insult. His young wife has scarcely known him in terms of any kind of marital intimacy. Due to the struggle, he was absent from both his engagement and wedding ceremonies. At the engagement party, a framed portrait photo did duty for him, while she married his dagger, as surrogate, at the wedding.

As bombs fall and militia overrun the city, she tells her inert husband of her concerns for her safety and that of her two daughters. His wound is not healing, despite what the Mullah said, and money is scarce.

However, it has been a loveless marriage, and she has failed to deliver a son. To remain married and avoid banishment during their ten-year liaison, the young wife had to construct an elaborate web of deceit. She now reveals the shameful details to her husband, in a rueful, often vengeful tone. Her fortunes take a significant turn when a young freedom fighter arrives at the house.

Although it is a reasonably engaging film, The Patience Stone lacks sufficient pace and drama. Much of the time it is a rather cheerless monologue delivered by the wife to the unresponsive spouse, lying in his sickbed. Can be seen at the IFI.

Paddy Kehoe