Ben Kingsley plays Massoud Amir Behrani, an Iranian immigrant living the United States. Even though he was a high-ranking official in Iran, he works several menial jobs in order to provide his wife, Nadi (Shohreh Aghdashloo), and his son, Esmail (Jonathan Ahdout), with an apartment in California. He buys a California bungalow, thinking he can fix it up, sell it again, and make enough money to send Esmail to college. However, the house is the legal property of former drug addict Kathy (Jennifer Connelly). After losing the house in an unfair legal dispute with the county, she is left with nowhere to go. Wanting her house back, she hires a lawyer (Frances Fisher) and befriends a police officer (Ron Eldard). Neither Kathy nor Behrani have broken the law, so they find themselves involved in a difficult moral dilemma.