"The story remains a muddle of melodramatic gestures, extraneous protagonists and blunt political talking points," Variety critic Justin Chang wrote after seeing the film at the festival. "Schnabel's attempts to compensate stylistically with his trademark smeary impressionistic visuals feel like auteurist doodles in the margins of an important subject."
Unlike most films about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, "Miral" only focuses on Palestinians' stories. The film begins in 1948 after the United Nations instituted the two-state system and chronicles the opening of the Dar Al-Tifel Institute in East Jerusalem, an orphanage for Palestinian children founded by Hind Husseini (played by Hiam Abbass).
"Miral" also touches on the backgrounds of would-be terrorist Fatima (Ruba Blal) and Miral's mother, Nadia (Yasmine Al Massri), whose suicide compels Miral's father (Alexander Siddig) to leave her at the school. The film then fast-forwards to 1988 as Hind sends the teenaged Miral (Pinto) outside the orphanage's walls to teach at refugee camps.