A compassionate, competent woman who takes in abandoned war orphans. A child who grows up to recognize that her oppressed people are withering under occupation. Injustice. Bigotry. Rebellion. What could possibly be offensive about artist-filmmaker Julian Schnabel (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) taking on such an underdog tale and imbuing it with his usual warm, empathetic, humanist touch? How could such a film be controversial? Ah, here is Schnabel’s mistake: his story is about a Palestinian girl, and he fails to give equal time to the Israeli side of the story, an unforgivable transgression in the eyes of many. Merely treating Palestinians as human could well be too egregious a crime to some. Ironically, there are plenty of nonpolitical reasons to frown upon Miral: it’s simply not a very engaging film, even to those sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. Based on the semiautobiographical novel [Amazon U.S.] [Amazon Canada] [Amazon U.K.] by Rula Jebreal (who is, not coincidentally, Schnabel’s girlfriend), this is a disjointed and poorly structured narrative about the political awakening of Miral (Slumdog Millionaire’s Freida Pinto) that swings wildly between the heavy-handed and the surrealistically extraneous. Schnabel wants to let his typically gorgeous and emotional visuals tell the story, but they’re not connected enough to what we see — or to the political awareness we bring to the film — to say much of anything besides: Hey, Palestinians are people too. It’s an admirable statement that needs to be said, and that more people need to hear. But that’s an editorial, not a compelling story.