October 1985. Four young Palestinians – Omar, Mamoud, Rambo and Molqi – are lined up against a wall in an Italian police station. Marilyn Klinghoffer, an American woman, walks into the room and faces the men. She spits into the face of one of them, who glares back at her defiantly.
The film is a screen adaptation of John Adams’ opera, based around the hijacking in 1985 of a cruise liner by Palestinian gunmen. The narrative is interspersed with flashbacks providing historical background and perspective to the event.