The Attack (R)

Drama 102 June 28, 2013
By Alan Scherstuhl
Since it opens with a suicide bombing in downtown Tel Aviv, and since its mystery plot involves a sheik whose public expectorations call for the slaughter of Israeli civilians, The Attack is most avowedly "about" terrorism. But that isn't its subject. The film is about love, trauma, and trust, both within a marriage and within entire cultures. There's an explosion (offscreen), much gumshoeing, and a nerve-racking interrogation, but this prickling thriller is too invested in life as it's lived to bother much with thrills—or even a traditional mystery. Not long after blast we’re told who did it; director Ziad Doueiri then digs into the why. Ali Suliman stars as Amin Jaafari, an Arab-Israeli surgeon summoned before a Shin Bet investigator who insists that Jaafari must have been involved in a terrorist attack—after all, the suicide bomber appears to have been his wife. Despite the political urgency-- the interrogator tells Jaafari his case has "destroyed all of the trust Israel has for its Arab citizens"-- the film's heart is in wrong-man thriller plotting, mixed up with those chestnuts torn-between-worlds and "I married a whatnow?" The film has been banned in some Arab nations due to the Lebanese director's insistence on filming in Israel, and it's certain to stir up anger among audiences who mistake his humanism for excuse-making or equivalence-drawing. But The Attack endorses nothing more controversial than the idea that it's worthwhile to try to understand what could spur people to murder. We learn something of who Jaafari's wife was, right up to her martyrdom. The most frightening thing in the movie--maybe in the movies this year--is her loving decency.
Ziad Doueiri Ali Suliman, Evgenia Dodena, Reymond Amsalem, Dvir Benedek, Uri Gavriel, Ruba Salameh, Karim Saleh, Ramzi Makdessi Ziad Doueiri Jean Bréhat Cohen Media Group

Newsletters

All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >