Richard Brad Pitt and Susan Cate Blanchett are a couple from the United States who have traveled to Morocco in Northern Africa on a vacation after the death of one of their children has sent Susan into a deep depression.
Richard and Susan's other two children have been left in the care of Amelia Adriana Barrazatheir housekeeper. Amelia is originally from Mexico, and her oldest son is getting married in Tijuana.
Unable to find someone who can watch the kids, or to obtain permission to take the day off, Amelia takes the children with her as she travels across the border for the celebration. Around the same time, in Morocco a poor farmer buys a hunting rifle, and he gives it to his sons to scare off the predatory animals that have been thinning out their goat herd. The boys decide to test the weapon's range by shooting at a bus far away; the shot hits Susan in the shoulder, and soon she's bleeding severely, while police are convinced the attack is the work of terrorists.
In Japan, Chieko Rinko Kikuchi is a teenage deaf-mute whose mother recently committed suicide. This despairing, confused girl experiences such rage and frustration that she causes her volleyball team to lose a match, and later yanks her underwear off and begins exposing herself to boys in a crowded restaurant.
Chieko's father then struggles to reach past the emotional distance which separates him and his daughter.