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Nate Jameson is a 35-year-old journalist who, after a year as African correspondent for the Washington Post, returns to the Bay Area to live with his wife and resume his career as a freelance journalist. He decides to write a story about Victor Saad, an Arab-American convicted of rape, who is suddenly freed when his alleged victim, Elizabeth, an African American photojournalist recants on her deathbed. The story complicates when Nate confesses to his best friend that he had an affair with Elizabeth while on assignment in Africa, but ended the affair the night she was allegedly raped by Victor. Nate tries to conceal the affair from his wife, but when Victor shows up to his house asking for shelter, Nate's life and relationship unravel. After a tense confrontation, Nate is left alone, drifting, but with the understanding that his life and relationships were built on illusions and ideals that, only on the surface, seemed elegant.