The Attack (2013)

You think that you know someone, until they prove you wrong. You can spend your whole life believing that a certain person is who they are, and then in a swift moment, they become someone else entirely. The secrets that people keep locked away will never remain hidden. It’s only a matter of time before our pasts come to haunt us, or before we find ourselves in an inescapable position.

Amin and Siham embrace before a long day at work.

Amin and Siham embrace before a long day at work.

Amin Jaafari (Ali Suliman) is a renowned surgeon living in Tel Aviv, Israel. As he spends most of his time at the nearby hospital, Amin is often away from his wife, Siham (Reymond Amsalem). One day while Amin is at work, a bomb goes off in the city and reports of multiple dead and wounded citizens come into the hospital. As Amin spends his day trying to help the wounded, he is unaware of his wife’s whereabouts, until he gets an alarming call upon returning home. Amin is called into a police station, wherein he learns that his wife was present during the bombing.

Not only was his wife killed in the bombing, but she was also the cause of the explosion. Taken aback by the news that his wife was a suicide bomber, Amin seeks out the truth behind his wife’s doings. Despite his reluctance to believe that his wife could do something that appalling, Amin seeks out the truth behind her actions. His wife had never been one to keep secrets, so Amin must find friends and family who may know something that he doesn’t. His journey is one that seeks the answer of “why?’ What could drive his wife to do this?

Amin searches everywhere and talks to anyone to uncover the truth.

Amin searches everywhere and talks to anyone to uncover the truth.

The Attack was one of the first Foreign Films that I saw this year and it’s one that has stood out to me ever since. The film takes such a different approach to a would be “taboo” topic and I really applaud director Ziad Doueiri for choosing the unorthodox method of storytelling. His screenplay, adapted from a novel by Yasmina Khadra, is full of mystery and discovery that you can’t help but enjoy. I promise, it’s much more interesting than an episode of Mrs. Marple.

Ali Suliman leads this film with a phenomenal performance. Once a well-regarded surgeon at the start of the film, his character transforms into a desperate man seeking the truth that he may not want to find. He goes through hell, mentally, and goes to extremes to uncover why his wife would choose to kill herself and others. His emotional struggle as a husband and as a human is wonderful and really connects well with the audience. You want to see him find the answers, but you also don’t want to see him fall into disparity. Being the primary focus of the film, the film is on his shoulders and he completely carries the team on his back.

Amin's wife appears on posers as a hero.

Amin’s wife appears on posers as a hero.

While there may not be many supporting characters, each interaction that Suliman has with a character holds great significance. Any person he meets helps him come closer to his goal and helps advance the story. As characters reluctantly reveal information, the film’s mysteries begin to unravel and certain plot points are fully recognized. Things eventually turn full circle in a very surprising and unique ending that will leave most puzzled, as it did for me.

When all is revealed and the wife’s motivations are clear, not everything makes sense. We are told why she killed herself, but her reasoning leading up to her situation makes no sense at all. The film tries to give a detailed explication as to what could drive her to make the decision she did, but it doesn’t add up with her previous life conditions. She’s married to a wealthy surgeon and he’s an incredible husband to her. She has a loving outer-family and all is well, until she decides that she needs to blow herself up and kill innocent people. Perhaps I just don’t understand how anyone could do this, but I’m leaning more towards the fact that the script just didn’t add up well.

Despite not fully understanding this films “deeper” meanings, I still enjoyed it very much. Ali Suliman IS this film and I’m completely fine with that. His acting here is superb and his emotional depth helps you understand most of what his character feels. I’m not sure if this is a film for everyone, but I would recommend it to anyone looking for something different. Its drama-mystery blend works well and will keep audiences intrigued until the very end. I can’t wait to see more from Suliman and I’m curious to see how this film will play during the current awards season. Either way, it’s a solid film that everyone should check out!

The Attack Trailer

4 STARS!!!

4 / 5 stars     

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