A high school French teacher (Arsinée Khanjian) gives her students a translation exercise based on a news item about a terrorist planting a bomb in the luggage of his pregnant girlfriend who is slated to take a flight to Israel. The teacher's peculiar assignment triggers the imagination of a troubled pupil (Devon Bostick), who re-imagines his family's dark history and proceeds to post his reinvented personal narrative on the Internet. Intense feelings are aroused in public and private realms. Relationships disintegrate, others are forged. Some of the larger issues examined include ethnic hatred and the long shadow it casts, the darkness of secrets and lies, and the potentially devastating power of chatrooms.
But the acting can't be faulted. Though the teacher's motivation doesn't add up as written, Khanjian suggests a deeply misguided woman who believes in the correctness of her actions and finally comes to realize how off-the-wall her thinking was. Her guilt and contrition are palpable. Bostick is splendid as an innocent who is at once profoundly moral and dangerously unschooled in the ways of the world. As grandfather to Bostick's character, Kenneth Welsh evokes an embittered and racist old man, who feels under siege in a world that threatens him at every turn. In a smaller role, Rachel Blanchard does a nice job as a gentle and talented violinist trapped between her Arabic husband (Noam Jenkins), whom she loves, and her father, who controls her. Jenkins is convincing as a man who knows he's the despised "other" in the eyes of his father-in-law while struggling to maintain a courteous façade. But the most interesting performance is Scott Speedman's as the youngster's uncle, a gruff yet not insensitive soul, burdened with responsibility and browbeaten by an abusive father over the course of a lifetime.
Nevertheless, the viewer is asked to take too many leaps of faith. Adoration never fully makes sense.
Written and directed by: Atom Egoyan
Starring: Devon Bostick, Arsinée Khanjian, Scott Speedman, Kenneth Welsh, Rachel Blanchard, Noam Jenkins