“The Patience Stone,” starring Golshifteh Farahani as a mother of two who is turned into a caregiver for her husband after he is shot and falls into a coma, brings issues of gender and equality in Iran to the big screen…

Golshifteh Farahani Continues to Rebel in ‘Patience Stone’

By ELAINE SCIOLINO / Shared fromThe New York Times

Growing up in Iran, Golshifteh Farahani was a rebel. She persuaded her classmates to go on strike because their school had no heat, and she lied to her parents so that her sister could spend time with her boyfriend.

In a protest against the head scarf at 16, she shaved her head, taped down her breasts, dressed like a boy and rode a bicycle around Tehran. At 17, she rejected her parents’ wish that she study piano in Vienna and pursued acting instead.

“There’s an expression in Persian, ‘to play with the lion’s tail,’ ” she said here in a recent interview in English. “I wasn’t what Iranian society wanted me to be — a good girl. I played with the lion’s tail.”

Her latest film, “The Patience Stone,” which opens in New York on Wednesday, is also a statement of rebellion, though a somewhat tame one compared with the controversy that led to her condemnation in Iran this year.

The film was directed by the Afghan-born Atiq Rahimi, based on his novel of the same title that won the Prix Goncourt, France’s most prestigious literary prize. It tells of a young Afghan mother of two who is turned into a caregiver for her husband after he is shot and falls into a coma.

As war rages outside, she sits by his side, feeding him sugar water through a tube in his mouth and telling him stories — of the suffering he caused her, of her lack of love for him. She confesses her deepest secrets, about her sexual desires, her longing for romantic love, her deceit, her lies. On the festival circuit, Ms. Farahani has been winning raves, with a critic for The Hollywood Reporter writing that she gives a “spellbinding performance in a highly demanding central role,” and Variety’s reviewer calling it a tour de force.

“We see a weak, Afghan woman in the beginning who struggles to break free, from tradition, from religion, from her husband,” Ms. Farahani said. The film ends with an act of liberation for the woman as “she went from victim to warrior.”

So did Ms. Farahani.

The daughter of a theater director and an actress-painter, she studied piano from the age of 5, starred in her first film in Iran at 14 and married at 20. She first ran afoul of the Islamic Republic when it said she collaborated with Westerners by playing opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in Ridley Scott’s C.I.A. thriller “Body of Lies.” She fled the country in 2008, settled in Paris and separated from her husband.

Having acted in more than 25 films, including “Chicken With Plums,” Ms. Farahani, 30, has become one of the best-known actresses Iran has produced.”

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