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The Attack, A Compelling Drama (Film Review)

THE ATTACK posterReview by John Delia

The compelling film The Attack has a pocket full of messages and a handful of questions as it spools out a tale of an unconscionable act.  The casting is point perfect with acting unparalleled in most countries.  While Israel and Palestine are the featured areas where the story takes place, this could be a sign of the times most anywhere in the world.  I felt disconcerted throughout the film then let down with a finale that leaves one wondering the effect the story will have on those that view it.

The story centers on Amin Jaafari a prominent Israeli surgeon who holds dual citizenship as a born Palestinian. His wife Sihem has the same freedoms and travels frequently from Tel Aviv where they live to the West Bank where her family lives.  On one evening Amin receives an award from his peers for outstanding surgeon, the first Arab to ever receive the award in the 21 years it has been given. The next morning at the Tel Aviv hospital where he works him and his staff hears an explosion in the distance.  A short time later the dead bodies and injured children and adults from a blast by a suicide bomber at a local restaurant start pouring in with Amin tirelessly patching up the wounds.

Ali Suliman stars as Amin Jaafari in The Attack

Ali Suliman stars as Amin Jaafari in The Attack

That evening after a long stretch in the emergency room he falls asleep only to get a phone call at 2:30 in the morning. On the other end of the line is his best friend and police officer Raveed telling him he needs to come back to the hospital.  When he arrives, head of police Moshe asks him if he would identify the body of his wife who has been blown apart from the waist down.   After the identification has been made, officer Moshe informs Amin that she is the suicide bomber.  So beings the sad journey of Amin who tries to get to the bottom of the heinous tragedy and why he could do nothing to prevent it.

The acting in the film especially the principal actors is extremely good showing the hardship and changes in the characters as the movie progresses. Director Ziad Doueiri introduces the characters in the beginning before moving on to the meat of the story that involves the bombing, the arrest and the emotional trauma brought on by the heinous act of violence.  What gets murky however is whether to accept the act as a reasonable means to injustice or war over the ongoing conflict between Arab Palestinians in the West Bank and Israel?  Doueiri’s view on this is unclear in the ending he provides leaving viewers with a questionable resolve.

There are many political ramifications involving Israel and the West Bank that are touched on, but due to the complexity of the situation are left unclear, especially the relatives and people who live in the area who make Sihem a martyr for her suicidal act.  There seems to be no pressure from those who helped Sihem complete the task of the bombing and leaves one to think that she was delusional and convinced that her killing would bring injustice to light for her people.  Writer Yasmina Khadra’s points out that a woman gets more publicity in the role of a suicide bomber than a male because there is no reward of 72 virgins in Paradise for females.

The Attack has been rated R by the MPAA for some violent images, language and brief sexuality.  The film is shown using the Israeli and Palestinian language with English subtitles. Responsible adults should use caution when deciding to allow immature children see the film as it does have some scenes that may be inappropriate.

FINAL ANALYSIS: While the film has merit, political ramifications cloud its value as entertainment. (C )

Additional Film Information:

  • Cast: Ali Suliman, Evgenia Dodena, Reymond Amsalem and Dvir Benedek
  • Directed by: Ziad Doueiri
  • Genre: Drama
  • MPAA Rating: R for some violent images, language and brief sexuality
  • Running Time: 1 hr 42 min
  • Language: Arabic & Hebrew with English subtitles
  • Opening Date: June 21, 2013
  • Distributed by: Cohen Group
  • EDITOR’S NOTE: The Attack is based on a bestselling novel by Algerian writer Yasmina Khadra that was published in 2005.


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