The Attack

The AttackThe Attack is a gripping drama about a hard hitting political subject handled with sensitivity and relative objectivity by writer and director Ziad Doueiri. It centers on an Arab doctor Amin (Ali Suliman, who you will recognize from Paradise Now) whose tranquil, privileged life in Tel Aviv is shaken on the day of a fierce terrorist bombing.

When we first meet Doctor Amin at the start of the film, it is during a ceremony in which he is honoured for his services to the medical profession in Israel. As an Arab living in the country, he feels grateful and shows his appreciation for the recognition in his humble speech. Not long after, a bomb goes off at a restaurant in the city where many children are killed and Amin discovers, to his horror, that the body of his wife was also found. The signs are all there—she doesn’t appear to be a victim, but instead a suicide bomber. Amin is taken in for interrogation by the authorities and finds himself at the receiving end of a barrage of tough questions; why did Siham, his wife, get off the bus she took to go to Nablus the day before, who did she get into the car with once she got off, why had her family not seen her in months even though she would claim to visit them every few weeks. We feel soon enough there are probably not going to be any easy answers to this one and we discover, as does Amin, just how deeply Siham was possibly involved in the sprawling network of a terrorist cell.

One of the fascinating things about the crime is probably that Siham was a Christian and not part of any known religion based terrorist alliances. When Amin is released for lack of evidence against him, he conducts his own investigation, being both more resourceful than the police and also more determined. The Attack touches on many delicate subjects, not the least of which is deception in marriage. Despite being together for many, many years, how much did Amin really know about his wife? Can we ever really claim to know someone completely and absolutely? Director Ziad Doueiri, who also wrote the screenplay, itself based on a book, skillfully navigates through these scenarios (which go on into Amin’s grieving, confused mind) and the murky world of religious fanaticism and fundamentalism, keeping the proceedings grey and never throwing any easy answers. By the films end we feel we’ve not just learned something about both these characters but we’ve even understood enough to empathize, if not condone, why situations such as the one shown in The Attack are an everyday reality even today.

Rating: ★★★★☆

About Faizan Rashid

A veteran Dubai based film critic, Faizan has been reviewing movies for nearly a decade. His work has been published in local newspapers such as 7days and on prestigious online websites such as MSN Arabia and