Review by-Jarrett Leahy
Amin Jaafari is an Arab Israeli physician working in Tel Aviv. The day after becoming the first Arab to be awarded a prestigious medical honor, Amin’s world is turned upside down when he discovers that his wife of 15 years was secretly involved in a horrific suicide attack in a crowded restaurant. Distraught, confused, and angry, Amin sets out to confront those responsible for her deadly decision but quickly discovers the answers he seeks only leads to more pain.
Director/co-writer Ziad Doueiri does an amazing job telling a painful and harrowing story without making it too sensationalistic. Doueiri avoids showing the actual attack, instead superbly choosing t0 use a distant camera shot where only the muted reverberation of the explosion can be heard. From there, Ziad accurately captures the terrifying and realistic aftermath of such a senseless attack. Thankfully, his exquisite use of the film’s consoling and melodic musical score helps offer a brief respite from the ever present tension of the story.
Ali Suliman’s portrayal of Dr. Amin Jaafari is exceptional. Lost, emotionally crushed, and full of fury and confusion, Suliman perfectly exhibits a man whose professional and personal life has, without warning, crumbled around him. The sheer anguish of this man, now haunted by memories of a wife he never truly knew, is so painfully illustrated on Ali’s face. Following Jaafari’s journey for answers, we, the viewers, are helpless bystanders who, throughout the film, are left with the persistent thought, what would I do in this situation?
Never does The Attack condone or apologize for the heinous actions depicted. It does however remind us there are two sides to this unfortunate, never-ending story, and regardless of how vile it may seem to those looking in from the outside, attacks of this nature are not completely unprovoked. “We are not Islamists or Christian fanatics; we’re just a ravished people who are fighting with whatever we can.” As calculating as that quote came across in the film, its sentiment really put into perspective how complicated it all is. In the end, after experiencing The Attack, the question I’m left with is: Will this madness ever end?
The Attack was a film recommended to me by a fellow cinephile who shares a similar passion for challenging and thought-provoking cinema. Admittedly the movie’s subject matter is unsettling, but it is unfortunately still pertinent subject matter in today’s society. I was stunned to read that after spending years trying to get his film made, Doueiri’s submission of the movie to The Lebanese Cinema Committee for Oscar consideration was rejected because it had Israeli actors in it. In fact, according to the New York Times, as of June of last year, the film has been banned or refused to be released in every Arab country simply because it was filmed in Israel. It’s amazing that in 2014 works of cinema are still being banned, and on that basis alone I’m glad I’m able to lend even just a little support to this stirring film.-JL
Edited by-Michelle Zenor