Amin Jaafari (Suliman) is an Arab surgeon living in Tel Aviv. He is respected and acknowledged by his Israeli peers. After a devastating suicide bomb downtown, he treats the wounded brought to his hospital. Shortly thereafter, he is informed that his wife Siham (Amsalem) was killed in the blast and that she is the main suspect in the police investigation. Jaafari at first refuses to believe that Siham is a terrorist, but his own inquiry into his wife’s secret life leads to some shocking revelations.
Lebanese-born director Doueiri has adapted Yasmina Khadra’s novel, and the result is a taut, revealing probe into Arab identity and ideology. Using the conventions of a procedural narrative, Doueiri weaves together a story combining mystery, romance and socio-political commentary. Telling flashbacks demonstrate Siham’s love for Amin, even as she conceals a devastating secret from him. Later, the film becomes Amin’s personal journey towards a deeper understanding of Middle East tensions, undertaken as a way to make sense of a horrific personal loss. Partially filmed in Israel, the movie was banned in most Arab countries, and Lebanon refused to submit it for Oscar consideration. In a stand-out cast, Suliman gives an immersive performance as a man moving from denial, to blame and eventual acceptance in this powerfully moving exploration of grief and self.