By Michael Sauter
Updated May 23, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

It’s all about the blossoming when Lilia (Abbass), a lonely Tunisian widow, finds herself drawn to the world of belly dancing at a nearby cabaret. Yet her sudden contrived transition from repression to release might ring untrue if not for the quiet passion of Abbass’ performance. Whether letting loose on the dance floor, giving in to a one-night stand, or simply buying a new pair of shoes, her Lilia comes vibrantly alive while barely saying a word. The joy is all in her face — and in her undulating body.