The movie starts with a Moroccan man named Hassan selling a rifle to a father who gives it to his two young sons, Yussef and Ahmed. They are to shoot jackals with it when they are goat herding. The boys practice shooting the rifle and Yussef - the younger brother - is a better shooter than Ahmed. When Ahmed is letting the goats out to the hills to eat, he calls for Yussef who is peeking through a hole in the stone wall at his sister who is undressing. Ahmed scolds Yussef for watching his sister and Yussef says that the sister knows he's peeking and that she lets him watch. As they sit and wait on the hills while the goats eat and roam around Yussef goes and masturbates (hard to watch because the kid is like what - 10 years old?) and Ahmed starts shooting at rocks. When Yussef goes to see what he is doing they start betting on how far the bullets will go. Ahmed tells Yussef to shoot at a bus making it's way up the hill and so he does but is disappointed that the bullet didn't go as far as Hassan said it would. They watch the bus for a few seconds and then the bus all of a sudden stops and they can hear people screaming. The boys look scared and run off.
In San Diego, Amelia is taking care of two kids, Debbie and Mike. They are playing hide and seek and you can tell that Amelia really cares for them. She gets a call from Richard (Brad Pitt) who ask about his kids and tells her that he'll try to find someone to take over the kids as Amelia is supposed to go to Mexico the next day for her son's wedding. He asks to talk to Mike and afterwards she puts the kids to bed. Debbie is scared of the dark though because she doesn't want what happened to Sam to happen to her. It's not really explained in the movie but I guess Sam was the third child and he died recently. Amelia stays with the kids until they fall asleep.
She gets another call in the morning and you can hear Richard sounding very stressed and telling her that they won't be coming home today and that she has to stay with the kids. She reminds him of her son's wedding but he's abrupt with her and hangs up. Amelia calls many people to try to find someone to take care of Debbie and Mike but to no avail. Eventually her nephew Santiago comes to pick her up and he's a bit wary of taking the kids but she says that she can't leave them with just anybody.
Back to Morroco: There's a tour bus that stopped in a little town. All the tourists are out and about looking around and Richard and Susan (Cate Blanchett) are sitting outside ordering food. There's tension between them and she asks why they are here in Morocco. She says something about him leaving the children. I get the feeling that she kind of blames Richard for Sam's death. Later they are sitting on the bus and then all of a sudden a bullet goes through the window and hits Susan in the shoulders. Other tourists start to notice that she's bleeding and Richard yells for the bus to stop.
In Japan a group of girls are playing volleyball. They are all deaf-mutes. One girl, Chieko, starts arguing with the referee and he tosses her out of the game. She flicks him off and her dad, Yasujiro, who is watching from the stands look disappointed. Afterwards in the dressing room Mitsu tells Chieko that she shouldn't have gotten thrown out because when she did, they lost the game. She asks Chieko why she's so sad and moody lately. One girl says that Chieko is moody because she's still a virgin. Chieko says something along the lines of going to have sex with the girl's dad and then she'll be out of her mood. Her dad dropps her off at J-Pop, a restaurant and arcade, and Chieko goes and eats with her friends. The group of girls flirt with a table of boys. When Chieko and Mitsu play in the arcade one of the boys go over to say hello. He keeps saying hello but the girls don't notice him because they can't hear him. Eventually he gets their attention and asks Chieko's name but she can't read his lips fast enough and tells Mitsu to tell him to talk slower. When he realizes that the girls are deaf he gets embarrassed and backs away where his friends are laughing. Chieko gets upset and tells Mitsu that boys look at them like they are monsters. Mitsu tells her to get over it but Chieko takes off her underwear and says that she'll show them a "hairy monster". When the girls return to their table to eat Chieko catches one of the boys attention by spreading her legs and... well you know. She laughs at them and leaves when she gets a text from her dad reminding her about her dentist appointment.
Back to Morocco: Richard is asking about the nearest hospital and the tour guide says that it's about four hours away. Richard sees a car coming and he runs out and begs them to stop but the car keeps on driving by. The tour guide tells them that they will go to his town which is near and there will be a doctor. When they get to the tour guide's town they take Susan to an old lady's home and waits for a doctor. Meanwhile Richard trys to call Susan's sister and tells them to call the embassy. The other tourists are getting restless because they want to leave Richard and Susan there and get back to their hotels. They think that a terrorist is out to get them. Finally the doctor comes and tells the tour guide that Susan is losing a lot of blood and that if they don't get to a hospital soon she will die. He says that he has to stitch the wound to which Susan protests. Richard and the tour guide have to hold her down when the doctor takes a nasty looking needle and start to sew up her wound.
Yussef and Ahmed are hiding at home. When their mother comes and ask them why the goats aren't out feeding they lie and say that they have stomaches. When the father returns home, she asks him why it took him so long and he said the road was blocked because some terrorist shot at a tour bus and an American lady was killed and he had to take the long way home. Yussef and Ahmed look scared and later go to hide the rifle.
Amelia, Santiago, and the kids cross over to Mexico. They get ready for the wedding party for her son and she tells the kids to go play with the other kids. There's a bunch of laughing, singing, dancing, eating. There's a scene where Santiago plays with Debbie and Mike and all the kids in a chicken coop and tells them he'll give a dollar to the kid who catches the chicken. Debbie catches one and he gathers all the kids together and they watch as Santiago breaks the chicken's neck and puts it back on the ground and the chicken runs around for a bit before it dies. The look on Mike's face is priceless as it's a cross between confused, shock, and "what the hell?". They stay late until it's almost dawn and Amelia gathers up the sleeping kids and Santiago. Her son encourages her to stay the night since he thinks Santiago is drunk but Santiago brushes it off and they get ready to drive back.
Chieko is at the dentist and as he's cleaning her teeth she attempts to kiss him twice. He asks her what she think she's doing but she answers by taking his hand and putting it under her skirt. He gets freaked out and tells her to leave. She goes back home and is stopped by the front desk man who tells her that two cops are looking for her father. The cops ask if she knows where her father is and she shakes her head no so the younger one gives her his business card and asks her to give it to her father and to call him. She agrees and goes upstairs where she waits for Mitsu. When Mitsu goes to pick her up she notices the business card and asks Chieko if the cops are asking about her mother's death again. Chieko says that it's been nine months since cops have been around to ask about her mom but this time the cops are different and then she laughs and says that she thought the younger cop was cute. They go out to meet their friends where they meet more guys who this time understand that the girls are deaf-mutes. The boys give the girls whiskey and what looks like ectasy and pretty soon they're all high and running around town. They go to a techno club and the movie does a good job at showing how cut off from the world Chieko feels. While we're listening to the music from the club Chieko hears nothing. When she sees the boy that she liked kissing Mitsu she feels even lonlier and leaves.
The cops are over at Hassan's house and beating him up. They tell him that his rifle shot and killed an American tourist but Hassan says that he sold the rifle. The cops head over to the boys house. As Yussef and Ahmed are returning from hiding the rifle they get stopped by the cops. The cop asks them where Abdullah (their dad) lives and Yuseff lies and tells the cop that they only live with their mother and that Abdullah lives over the mountains. The cops believe the boys and head towards where they pointed out but tells Yuseff that if they are lying he'll be back to cut off their balls. When the cops drive off the boys run back home and tell their dad that the cops are looking for him. When he asks why Ahmed tells him that Yuseff was the one that shot and killed the American tourist and that he also looks at his sister when she undresses. Abdullah freaks out and he tells the boys to gather up their things as they are going to get the rifle and hide somewhere for a bit.
Richard has a little heart to heart with the tour guide for a bit as he shows the tour guide a picture of his kids while they wait for help to come. Eventually some guy in a uniform comes to tell them that an ambulance isn't coming for them and that the embassy stopped the ambulance from coming because they want to bring a helicopter. Richard gets frustrated and yells at the uniformed guy to do something because this is his "fucked up" place. He says a lot of "fuck yous" and goes to make another phone call. The person on the other end says that they are doing their best. Everyone is doing their best and trying to get something done. It's all over the news and everyone knows about Susan getting shot. As he's talking on the phone he hears the tour bus leaving and runs after it but it doesnt stop and Richard sits down to cry in frustration (during all this many of the tourists bug Richard about going back to the hotel but he begs them to stay for a while but eventually they leave). He goes back to Susan who says she peed in her pants because she couldn't hold it and that she's going to pee again. He asks the tour guide for a pan and some privacy and helps her up to go to the bathroom. Then he kisses her and tells her that he loves her and she asks him to take care of the kids if she dies and to never leave them alone again.
Santiago is driving and he swerves a little bit but regains control of the car. They stop at the check point and the officer on guard asks for Santiago's paper. He asks some questions and Santiago gives a smart ass answer and quickly says he's joking but the officer is already wary of them. He notices the kids in the back and Santiago says that they are Amelia's nephw and nieces. The officer look at Amelia in mock surprise because obviously they don't look related. He asks for their passport which she has readily available. As he goes to check the passport two other officers come to check the car, glove compartment, trunk and so on. When Mike wakes up, the officer returns and asks him if Amelia is his aunt to which Mike shakes his head and says no. This alarms the officer and he forcefully tells Santiago to drive up a little distance and pull over. Santiago gets a little irritated and tells the officer not to yell at him and as he's driving and following the officer he hits the gas and drives off. Meanwhile Debbie and Mike are awake and crying and Amelia is freaking out and telling him to slow down and pull over. Santiago tells her that he warned her not to bring the kids. He notices the cops following them and he pulls over onto a dirt road and loses the cops for a bit. He tells Amelia and the kids to get out and gives them a flashlight promising to come back for them after he loses the cops. At first Amelia refuses to leave the car but he keeps screaming so she takes the flashlight and the kids and he drives off leaving them in the middle of the night. She walks around in the dark for a bit with the kids while they cry.
The cops are back at Hassan and they kick him and accuse him of lying about Abdullah's whereabouts. Hassan's wife says that he wasn't lying so they take her and tell her that she will take them to Abdullah's place. Before they drive off they ask Hassan where he got the rifle from and Hassan shows them a picture of the man who gave him the rifle. The picture is of Yasujiro, Chieko's dad. Apparently he took a trip to Morocco to hunt and Hassan was his guide and he did such a good job that as a gift Yasujiro gave Hassan the rifle. As the cops are driving back to Abdullah's house, Hassan's wife sees Yussef, Ahmed, and Abdullah running on the mountain. She tells the cops and they drive up and get out and start shooting at the three of them. The dad and his sons hide behind some rocks but then Ahmed runs off for a bigger rock and gets shot in the back of his leg. Abdullah runs to his son and tries to get him to a hiding place but then Yussef takes the rifle and starts shooting at the cops even though his dad is yelling at him to stop.
Chieko gets home and she asks the guy at the front desk to call the younger cop that gave her his business card. She goes upstairs to her home to wait for him. When he rings the bell (a light blinks whenever the door bell rings) she opens the door and offers him tea. She tells him that her dad didn't kill her mom. She writes that her mom jumped off the balcony and killed herself and that her dad was sleeping when it happened. And that she saw her mom jump. The officer seems surprised at all this and notices pictures of her dad in Morocco with a rifle. He asks if her dad still hunts and she shakes her head. He tells her that the reason why he's here is because he wants to ask her dad some questions about one of his rifles. That it may have been involved in an accident in Morocco involving the shooting of an American tourist. He tells her that he has to leave but she tells him to hold on and leaves the room. The officer looks outside at the balcony and in the window reflection he sees Chieko come back out completely naked. She tries to kiss him and places his hand on her breast. He tells her to stop but she starts to cry and he just holds her.
It's morning time and Amelia wakes up. The sun is out and she's already sweating. She notices a police car up on the road and tries to flag it down but it passes her by. Mike starts to wake up and asks if they are in trouble. Amelia says no but that some people think they are trouble. She ends up carrying Debbie while Mike walks beside her. Now I have no idea why they don't just walk on the road but they end up following what looks like the tire tracks from Santiago's car but when more tire tracks show up she gets lost and ends up taking the kids back to where they were sleeping. She tells Mike to wait with Debbie under the tree while she goes on her own to get help. He cries because he doesn't want to be left alone but she begs him to stay put. She walks for what looks like a long time and it's a little hard to watch because it's so hot and she's thirsty and her body looks like it's shutting down. Eventually she flags down a cop car and begs him to help her. He tells her to hold on and goes to his car where he phones in and says that he found the suspect. He puts Amelia under arrest while she cries for him to find the children. He takes her with him to find them and she takes him back to the tree but cannot find the children. Another officer comes to help search and a helicopter flies overhead.
Leading to another helicopter coming to Morocco where they finally take Susan and Richard. Richard tries to give the tour guide some money but he refuses and they hug before being flown to a hospital in what looks like Egypt. Through a news report we find out that Susan goes to surgery and five days after she got shot she's recovered and her and Richard are going home.
When Abdullah runs over to Yussef to try to get the rifle out of his hands, Ahmed tries to run again but gets shot again and this time he's not moving. The dad runs BACK to Ahmed and cries over him and Yussef takes the rifle and bangs it against a rock. He holds up his hands to surrender and cries and begs the police to just take him, kill him or whatever but to help his brother. He confesses and says that he was the one who shot the tourist and that it was nobody else's fault. The officer tells everyone to stop shooting and takes off his sunglasses to look at Yussef. Yussef cries and it flashes back to when he and Ahmed were up on the hill and playing and laughing.
Amelia is still handcuffed as an officer talks to her. He tells her that she is lucky they found the kids and that she's in huge trouble for trying to take the kids across the border. She tells the officer that she's been taking care of the kids since they were born. She cooks for them and plays for them and loves them like they were her own children and the officer reminds her that but, they are NOT her children. He also tells her that she's been working here illegaly and she says she's been here for 16 years and that all of her stuff are here and she's made a life for herself. He tells her that she will be deported and when she tries to ask for a lawyer he talks her down and says she should just voluntarily allow herself to be deported because she is just dragging out the inevitable. And that she is lucky that Richard and Susan are not pressing charges. Then it shows Amelia sitting on a curb still dirty and wearing the same outfit from her son's wedding all torn up while her son walks up to her and they hug and she cries.
Meanwhile Chieko's dad is returning home and runs into the officer. The officer asks him about his involvement with the rifle and Chieko concurs that he was the one who gave Hassan the rifle as a gift. Though he's not involved legally the officer asks the dad to come down the next day to answer some more questions. Before they part ways the officer apologizes about his wife jumping off the balconey. The dad looks slightly irritated and says that his wife shot herself in the head and that Chieko was the first one to find her. He tells the officer never to bother them about Chieko's mother again. When he goes upstairs he finds Chieko, still naked, standing on the balconey. He goes over to her and she cries and they hug.
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