The picture begins in the late `40s, tracking the humanitarian work of Hind al-Husseini (Hiam Abbass), who founds her school after the Deir Yassin massacre that left many children as orphans. Al-Husseini is not driven by political motivation, only the sincere desire to create a better future for these young kids. For the first half hour or so, the film follows a slew of female protagonists, before settling into the perspective of the titular charcter, Miral (Freida Pinto), who gets involved with an intifadah leader, Hani (Omar Metwally), who tries to get her work against the Jews much to the disdain of al-Husseini, who is her mentor.

Critics have pointed out that Schnabel seems to be at a loss at how to direct women. We agree wholeheartedly. Pinto here is tragically miscast as Miral, and while Schnabel`s eclectic style did suit some of his previous work like The Diving Bell and the Butterfly very well, here his aesthetic seems muddled and it actually distances you from the characters instead of helping you get to know them.

The film may be an ambitious attempt to meld personal drama with political history, but the plot is too non-committal, and the style too messy, for it to function either as a drama of a woman`s life or as a film about politics.

  Raymond Tan