The Attack

Directed By: Ziad Doueiri

Starring: Ali Suliman, Evgenia Dodena, Reymond Amsalem, Dvir Benedek, Uri Gavriel, Ruba Salameh, Karim Saleh, and Ramzi Makdessi

Because it's the summer season, we haven't been reviewing too many serious films, and I wouldn't have it any other way at this time of year.  That being said, I do recognize that some moviegoers would prefer some more serious material at the box office.  Well, those moviegoers are getting exactly what they've been craving this weekend with Ziad Doueiri's The Attack.  They're getting a healthy dose of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and some of the social complexities that come along with it for those who live on "the other side".  It doesn't get more serious than that.

Amin (Ali Suliman) is a Palestinian living in Israel.  For years, he has lived a happy life there with his wife Siham (Reymond Amsalem) and worked as a general surgeon at a Tel Aviv hospital.  His hard work is finally being rewarded as he's being awarded the medical equivalent of an Oscar.  He won't be spending the most important night of his career with his wife however.  For whatever reason, she has gone to Nazareth to visit her grandfather and is not in attendance at the award ceremony. 

The next day, Amin goes back to work as usual.  While taking a break, he hears a large explosion somewhere in the city.  It turns out that there was a terrorist bombing at a restaurant killing 17 people, including 11 kids.  As a surgeon at the closest medical facility to the attack, Amin witnesses the devastation inflicted upon these victims firsthand.  Later that night, he's called back to the hospital to identify a body, which law enforcement officials believe to be the remains of Siham.  Apparently, she was at the explosion in close range to the bomb and is now believed to be a suicide bomber.  With his late wife now branded a terrorist, Amin struggles to accept the truth of this tragic matter and to get some perspective.

The Attack is an intriguing, thought-provoking drama that takes a nuanced look at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and what it means to be an Arab living among Jews.  Director Ziad Doueiri explores both the larger social context of what it means to be an Arab in this terrible situation and the more intimate context of what it means to be a husband whose recently deceased wife has murdered innocent men, women, and children.  I have to give Doueiri credit.  He doesn't pick a side.  He highlights all perspectives.  Well-acted and well-directed, The Attack is solid counterprogramming during this summer blockbuster season.

As the film progresses, Amin accepts the truth that his wife did indeed commit some heinous acts and goes out to search for answers on why the woman he loved could do such a thing.  This entire process allows Doueiri to fully flesh out the complex social landscape of this situation.  The Jews in Tel Aviv hate Amin because his wife was a terrorist.  After being "granted" an opportunity to live among them, they feel betrayed and violated.  It's guilt by association.  In the Palestinian town of Nablus, the Arabs love his wife and hate Amin for living amongst their enemies and forgetting his heritage.  He can't win because bigotry and hatred exist on both sides of this senseless conflict.

At the same time, Doueiri explores the more intimate aspect of this situation.  Amin must put together the pieces of the puzzle and figure out how he feels about his wife.  The woman to whom he committed himself for years betrayed him and ruined his life along with the lives of the 17 victims of the attack.  Obviously, he loved her at one point, and possibly still does.  However, he has every right to hate her for keeping such a vile secret, living a double life, and ultimately compromising his safety as a Palestinian living in Israel.  Ali Suliman gives a powerful performance delving into a complex character and putting a range of emotions on display.  This performance helps Doueiri to highlight this intricate state of Amin's heart given what his wife has done to him. 

The Attack is the ultimate example of what it means to have a terrorist in the family.  Ziad Doueiri thoroughly examines a truly complex situation with a fairly objective lens in this powerful drama.  My one critique of the film is that it's predictable.  At no point do I learn anything I didn't already know.  It's just a strong reminder of the pointless conflict that rages on the other side of the globe.  The Attack gets a 0.03% rating.  Have some wine coolers with this one.