Thursday, June 20, 2013

“The Attack” – Movie Review



This week in my movie class, we saw the drama, “The Attack”, a foreign film featuring actors mostly unknown here in the United States.


When an Arab physician working in Israel learns his wife has died in an explosion, the police inform him she was the suicide bomber causing that apparent terrorist attack – but when he tries to find out the truth, will it cost him his own life as well?


Amin is a noted surgeon practicing at a hospital in Tel Aviv when he becomes the first Arab to win a coveted award from a prestigious medical society – the only sour note on that evening is that his beloved wife, Siham, cannot accompany him as she is out of town visiting family. The next day at the hospital, he is met with congratulatory greetings from colleagues – but everyone’s serene lunch break is brutally interrupted when a nearby explosion is heard off in the distance. Within minutes, the injured are arriving at the emergency room of Amin’s hospital, where he must try to save as many lives as possible.

Hours after his shift, Amin receives an emergency call to return to the hospital immediately – it turns out a body recovered from the explosion may be that of his wife and he must confirm it is indeed Siham. Upon positively identifying her remains, the police proceed to interrogate Amin, informing him that they suspect Siham was the suicide bomber who caused the explosion in this apparent terrorist attack. Initially, Amin is in total denial about his late wife’s culpability in a bombing which resulted in the death of 17 innocent people at a restaurant – but when he obtains proof that Siham was in fact directly involved in this attack, he immediately sets out on his own personal mission to investigate how this could have occurred.

It turns out that Siham never actually got to Nazareth to see her grandfather and instead, took a detour to Nablus where other family resided. Going there, Amin learns that Siham is being hailed as a hero for her martyrdom as a result of this highly-publicized terrorist attack. Discovering that a controversial sheik who promotes terrorism is located at a nearby mosque, Amin sets out to try to meet with him so he can understand more about how Siham was recruited and why she chose to go this route. But when the terrorist group feels threatened by Amin’s presence, will he be able to survive in his quest to obtain the answers he seeks?


Who are terrorists? Why do they do what they do? How can someone who has enjoyed the privileges of a free and open lifestyle then turn against that same society in such a violent and horrific way? These are among the questions that are posed in director Ziad Doueiri’s “The Attack”, an excellent film that explores the complexities behind what compels a person to become a mass murderer on behalf of their devout religious beliefs. Combining a love story with suspense and political thriller, Doueiri succeeds in telling a gripping tale; despite the complex details of the story, he lays out everything in a comprehensible way, judiciously tossing in flashbacks to fill in the gaps when needed.

One of the things that makes “The Attack” so good is its even-handedness – despite originally being from Lebanon, Doueiri presents valid points from both the Palestinians and the Israelis for why things are as they are. Terrorists and Tel Aviv police alike voice reasonable outrage for their current situation. Exploration of the question of how someone seemingly normal is turned into a terrorist is especially germane in light of the recent Boston Marathon bombing. Doueiri does an outstanding job of maintaining the tension throughout the movie; examples include the particularly gruesome scene where Amin must identify Siham’s remains, followed shortly thereafter by Amin’s rather intense police interrogation, as well as the times when Amin confronts the terrorists in Nablus.

Following the screening, our instructor interviewed director Ziad Doueiri, who also co-wrote the screenplay for “The Attack”, which was based on a novel. Almost as fascinating as the movie itself is its back-story with respect to financing. Originally, an outfit in Qatar had provided a significant amount of money, supplemented by French and Belgium investors. However, after the film was completed, the Qatar group took in a viewing and subsequently requested to have its name removed from the credits – generously offering to pay a sum of money in order to have this done. Their reason for this was due to the fact that they didn’t want to be associated with the motion picture because of its subject matter. Why did they even get involved in it in the first place? At the time, the recommendation to help fund in “The Attack” came from their paid script reader – an Australian woman, who was considerably less sensitive to the Arab-Israeli conflict than the wealthy Qatar businessmen.

    The Attack (2012) on IMDb 6.4/10289 votes


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