Like The New York Times, the Washington Post really hated the new movie The Stoning of Soraya M., which depicts sexist injustice under Islamic Sharia law in Iran. Post critic Jan Stuart complained Friday:
Iranian American director Cyrus Nowrasteh, co-writing with wife Betsy Giffen Nowrasteh, has amplified the basic elements of Soraya's story into the worst kind of exploitive Hollywood melodrama, presented under the virtuous guise of moral outrage.
From there, Stuart then condemned how the filmmakers had a reputation for "inflating" historical events like 9/11 and the crucifixion of Jesus:
The creative team has ample experience in inflating true-life tragedies entailing really bad deaths. Nowrasteh scripted the odiferous 2006 miniseries "The Path to 9/11"; chief co-producer Stephen McEveety had worked in a like capacity for the clinically violent "The Passion of the Christ."
What, precisely, does that mean? How do you "inflate" historical events like 9/11? Would the Post accuse a filmmaker of "inflating" the Holocaust for moral outrage? Or the killing of gay man Matthew Shepard, who many activists quickly compared to Jesus? The political ideology of the critic is obvious, and drowns out any aesthetic judgment they might offer, even if one could argue that as art, these films were overwrought. The Stoning of Soraya M. could certainly be hard to sit through, as Stuart insisted:
They've worked up a lollapalooza of a climax, stretching Soraya's death march to a stomach-churning half-hour, accentuated by the doom-laden soundtrack of children clacking rocks, a tearfully eloquent last speech for Soraya and tight close-ups of Soraya's final agony that lend literal new meaning to "the money shot." Nowrasteh milks the victim's horrific demise with a relish that unintentionally implicates the audience in the rabid voyeurism of the attending villagers.
What the Post critic seems to imply is Westeners shouldn't be "rabid" in feeling any moral superiority to Islamic justice, and that the audience should feel dirty, not morally outraged, for taking in the film. (The Post misspelled the lead character as "Suraya" throughout the review, including the headline in Friday's Weekend section.)
Brent Bozell wrote on The Stoning of Soraya M. last month.