When Palestian mum Muna (Farah) and her teenage son Fadi (Muallem) emigrate to a remote corner of Illinois, they struggle to find their feet. But as the American occupation of Iraq plays out on their TV sets, they gradually start to negotiate their strange new life.
Inspired by debutant Cherien Dabis’ own story, this is a likeable if lightweight insight into the emigrant experience. Leaving the West Bank just as the US invades Iraq, divorcée Nisreen Faour and teenage son Melkar Muallem are welcomed by her sister’s family, but find life in rural Illinois to be as fraught as crossing Israeli checkpoints. Muallem endures the bigotry of redneck bullies, while banker Faour suffers economic prejudice. However, the emphasis is more on domestic drollery than political satire and the pair find their niche after overcoming crises that are more symbolic than critical. Faour is superb, while Hiam Abbas and Alia Shawkat provide smart support. But the mood is perhaps a touch too cosy.
Likeable but lightweight, Dabis' emigration tale plays largely for laughs, sapping some of the drama from the storyline.