Movie Review: “The Attack”

3half-starDr. Amir Jaafari is a revered surgeon in his Tel Aviv hospital, honored by his peers and seemingly embraced by his community. A secular Arab in a Jewish state, he travels easily in the highest medical circles, only occasionally catching a look, an unguarded crack about his Muslim background. If this outsider feeling gets too strong, he can always retreat to the arms of his loving wife Siham.
If you’re mangled in a suicide bombing, he’s the steady hand you want operating — unless you’re a Jewish bigot.
Jaafari comes to see just how thin the veneer encasing his life is when there is such a bombing and innocent children are slaughtered. And the person the police think carried it out was his wife.
Lebanese writer-director Ziad Doueri’s “The Attack” is a moving drama about the journey that this sends Dr. Jaafari (Ali Suliman) on. It begins with a spiral, that moment when the police show him the remains — a pile far too small to contain a whole human body — of his wife (Reymond Amsalem) and start accusing her and by extension him.
He is a “fake secular,” a Muslim mole unknowingly embraced by the Jewish majority. Just how loose that embrace has been becomes obvious the moment he’s accused. A security agent (Dvir Benedek), adoring him for saving his sickly mother in the opening scene, becomes his chief interrogator. Jaafari, whose reaction to the horror of suicide bombings has always been “What is WRONG with these people?”, refuses to believe it.
But as he hears the reasons women become suicide bombers debated on talk radio, as his one Jewish friend and peer (Evgenia Dodena) becomes, to him, “The nice Jew defending the poor little Arab,” the doctor develops doubts. And as suspicions about his own involvement fade,  he sets out to find answers, from the suspicious-acting nephew who visited his wife, from the West Bank city of Nablus, where they are both from, from clerics and hot-headed young true believers there.
Doueiri, the director of “West Beirut,” has seen his film banned in parts of the Arab world because he went to Israel to film it. But this is no “Zionist propaganda” piece. One minute, the doctor is stalked and rebuffed by Palestinians who see him both as the spouse of a martyr and a traitor to his own kind and the film lets us see them as he does — hateful, bloody-minded fanatics. The next, he is enduring insults and rough treatment from security forces who consider him guilty purely on the basis of his heritage.
Suliman ably plays this doctor with the fearlessness of the privileged and makes the arc of his story — Dr. Jaafari should be afraid, of both sides — a compelling journey from grief, denial and confusion to some tiny corner of understanding.
And Doueiri has brilliantly and simply put a compassionate human face on a part of the world where ethnicity still trumps education, class and achievement, where even the successful face, at best, second-class citizenship in their own country.

MPAA Rating: R for some violent images, language and brief sexuality
Cast: Ali Suliman, Evgenia Dodena, Reymond Amsalem, Dvir Benedek:
Credits: Written and directed by Ziad Doueiri . A Cohen Media Group release
Running time: 1:37

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
This entry was posted in Reviews, previews, profiles and movie news. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Movie Review: “The Attack”

  1. jesbet says:

    Roger Moore, the Saint?
    I will see this when it comes here. I used to think I would make a good movie critic. But haven’t seen this one yet, so what’s to say?
    well, your review is the best of the last 4 I read.
    you did not say, who financed the film. I saw the name on another review, and forgot. I wanted to find more info on this .
    I suspect, despite the surface narratives, and the producer’s intelligence, and genuine empathies, the film will mostly be received at a gut level. Waiting to see what viewers say, meanwhile.
    Oh – xxx Cohen Group – something, like that.
    Who are they, why did they do the film, and what message did they want to send?

    • Cohen Group picked it up for distribution. I don’t believe they financed it, but I get your meaning. The film’s fence-sitting belies your suggestion that “Oh, the Jews made it.” Once you see it, you’ll understand.

      • jesbet says:

        Thanks for replying.
        I was hoping you have it right, and have to wait till the film shows here.
        I saw the producer talk about his film on Charlie Rose, and I had a sort of feeling, from what he said, that I will have to see it.
        There are many clever ways to “influence” people. Films can be exploited, shamelessly.
        I hope this will be beyond “fence-sitting” , with a real discernible, worthy flash moment.

  2. Dr Bruce Grossinger says:

    Guess your moderators aren’t fond of free speech. Welcome to America.

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