The Attack – A Stunningly Poignant Film

By SI Blog Reader AC

One of the pleasures of living in Toronto is attending the aam aadmi -friendly Toronto International Film Festival – or TIFF in short – at the fag end of summer.

September brings a mouth watering treat to the movie buffs of this city in the form of a virtual cornucopia of movies from every part of the world.

In addition to the big ticket Hollywood premieres, there are innumerable indie affairs that get shown at the festival.

The Attack

Yesterday I decided to sample some of the fare and settled on a film by the Lebanese American film maker Ziad Doueiri.

Based on a bestselling book by Yasmina Khadra, “The Attack” tells the story of an Israeli-Arab’s quest for answers in the aftermath of his wife’s tragic suicide bombing mission.

Dr. Amin Jaafari, played by veteran Arab actor Ali Suliman, is a successful surgeon who along with his lovely wife Siham is the toast of Tel-Aviv Society.

He is a Muslim and she is a (Arab) Christian, but these differences hardly seem to matter as they have embraced a western, liberal lifestyle that has helped them build a wide social circle comprised of like-minded Jewish friends.

For readers who may not be very familiar with the region, there are a small number of Arabs living in Israel outside of the disputed territories.

Amin’s world comes crashing down when he is asked to identify the remains of a purported suicide bomber at the mortuary and they turn out to be his wife’s.

He is taken in by the Israeli police for interrogation and immediately the questions about his loyalties begin.

Amin who is in a state of denial about his wife’s role also vigorously denies knowing anything about the attack itself.

The police set him free after a couple of days for lack of evidence.

Amin receives a confessional letter written by his wife a day before her death which convinces him of her involvement.

Searching for Answers

Determined to find out more about his dead wife’s secret life, Amin embarks on a journey to Nablus, in the heart of Palestine.

Here he encounters a much different world than the one he is used to – an urban jungle mired in poverty, fear and oppression and a penchant for celebration of “martyrs” such as his wife who take part in gruesome attacks on Israeli citizens.

Amin constantly flirts with danger as he doggedly pursues a well guarded local Imam famous for his fiery sermons and also known to bless aspiring suicide bombers.

Towards the end of the movie, Amin does find some answers, but they in turn just raise broader questions for both Amin and the viewer.

For example, was Amin’s life really a story of successfully overcoming all odds or was he just a poster boy for the Israeli establishment, a symbol to be shown off as an example of Israeli generosity and tolerance of Arab minorities?

What are the responsibilities of a minority people, especially where their sympathies may not be aligned with those of the majority?

Is it acceptable to betray a loved one while in the service of a greater cause?

Universal Context

Although framed within the Arab-Israeli conflict, these questions have a universal context.

While the acting was uniformly good, Ali Suliman’s understated portrayal of Amin was top notch.

Without ever resorting to histrionics, Ali expertly takes the viewer through a range of emotions – anger, love, denial and finally helplessness as he tries to make sense of it all.

The background score was economical yet haunting, consisting at most times of a few guitar chords.

The cinematography was excellent with some memorable scenes such as the mortuary scene and the meeting with the Imam still fresh in this viewer’s mind.

This was a fine movie overall that provides food for thought on one of humanity’s festering conflicts and also on the human condition.

4 Responses to "The Attack – A Stunningly Poignant Film"

  1. Naveen   September 11, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    SI – Finally someone can see Priyanka Chopra’s talent. Responds:

    I just puked on my Mac.

    Now I know why I hate NFL. 🙁

  2. Naveen   September 14, 2012 at 1:03 am Responds:

    Looks interesting.

  3. Naveen   September 17, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    Believe it or not… I had another weird dream!

    It was Obama talking to me on general topics! He and I having a friendly conversation and I overhear news from the TV saying Romney wins the elections.

    The next thing I remember is Obama putting his stuff into boxes and carrying them out and me thinking now I have to write those free reviews for SI that I promised if Romney wins.

    That is exactly how I woke up today morning. I guess I am going crazy. Responds:

    1. You write: It was Obama talking to me on general topics!

    I bet he asked you about Vishwaroopam since Dasavatharam was filmed in the “White House.” 😉

    2. You write: me thinking now I have to write those free reviews for SI that I promised if Romney wins.

    Not to worry. You’re safe.

    The media pundits seem to think Romney is struggling.

    A new piece from Politico

    If the ReThuglicans can’t win in this slump, nothing can help them.

    The problem is the ReThuglican base is getting smaller and smaller – Just the 1%, the Redneck White Trash, the senile/near senile Whites and the anti-Abortion and the Jesus-oh-Jesus-oh-Jesus whackos.

    The Latinos, African Americans and a lot of other immigrants plus the Liberal Whites can’t stand the ReThuglican beasts.

    Unless the ReThuglican party becomes more inclusive, it’s going to be hard for them notwithstanding their corporate benefactors like the Koch brothers etc.

    • AC   September 18, 2012 at 8:55 am

      I think Mittens is toast.

      Every week he is getting entangled in some gaffe-ridden affair or the other.

      Here is the latest, where he implies 47% of the voters who support Obama are just moochers and losers: Responds:

      Saw that yesterday.

      Romney has lately been forced into playing defense and you can’t win in politics (or in anything else in life for that matter these days) by playing defense.

      A lot of American voters recognize that Romney is a sick SOB who destroyed countless lives by buying up companies, stripping their assets and ultimately destroying them. Also, Romney’s obdurate stand on not releasing more tax returns for prior years make him look like a sneaky bastard which he undoubtedly is.

      Romney’s silly position on cutting taxes for the wealthy while not adding to the national debt reminds me of how the conservative commentator George Will once mocked someone on TV (‘How to Stay Thin while Eating Pastries‘) during one of the This Week with Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts Sunday morning shows in the 1990s.

      I’m not an Obama supporter now because I think he lacks balls but nothing would give me greater pleasure than to see Romney kiss the dust. I can’t wait for November 6. 😉

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