The Attack (2012) / Drama-Mystery

MPAA Rated: R for some violent images, language and brief sexuality
Running time: 102 min.

Cast: Ali Suliman, Reymond Amsalem, Evgenia Dodena, Dvir Benedek, Uri Gavriel, Ruba Salameh, Karim Saleh, Ramzi Makdessi
Director: Ziad Doueiri

Screenplay: Ziad Douieri, Joelle Touma (based on the novel by Yasmina Khadra)
Review published July 10, 2013

The Attack 2012 Ali SulimanAmin Jaafari (Suliman, Body of Lies), a well-regarded and successful Palestinian-born surgeon working in Israel, is alerted to a suicide bombing at a taking place in a busy restaurant in Tel Aviv, only for the police to question him regarding the whereabouts of his Christian-Palestinian wife, Sihem (Amsalem, Lebanon), whom they suspect may have been involved in the slaughter and permanent maiming of many innocent men, women and children. Amin refuses to believe it, even after identifying her body from the blast, and eventually begins to try to put the pieces together on just what happened. His investigation will lead him right into the lion's den of the West Bank, where his wife is praised as a martyr, as Amin puts life and limb on the line to find out answers to the questions that have been haunting him for weeks.

Directed and co-written by Lebanese-born filmmaker Ziad Doueiri (Lila Says, West Beirut), the thrust of the conflict of The Attack is not with the external opposing forces between Israel and Palestine, but rather, from within the conscience of the mind and heart of a Palestinian man who has assimilated into Israeli culture for not only how he views the actions of his wife of many years, but also where his loyalties lie -- is it to the people he has come to regard as friends who treat him well, or to the homeland he's left behind?

The basic plot of The Attack comes from a bestselling novel by Algerian author Yasmina Khadra. While the film isn't without a certain enjoyment in a story told well, it is a somber piece much of the time, and its implications are sad and often frustrating, showcasing attitudes that are either realist or repugnant, depending on your attitude and allegiances. Amin's love affair with his wife is told through a series of flashbacks, and one of the driving forces for his anguish comes not through his loss, but through his trying to reconcile whether she indeed loved him, or whether his status and locale was used by her for the possibility of terrorist acts. What makes this different than most films to depict the Arab-Israeli conflict is its intimately personal treatment, seeing the effects of the war from within the lives of a close-knit family.

The Attack is a well-made drama that generates a strong level of interest, even through some pat story contrivances that must be used to get through the journey and evoke the deeper thematic material.  Well worth a look to see the human face and repercussions of this eternal war that perpetually seems like there is no end in sight.

 Qwipster's rating:

©2013 Vince Leo