‘The Attack’ looks at how well we really know someone in a relationship and how we are able to overlook imperfections in the person that we love. Yet, it also looks at the facts that make us human and incidents that shape our lives.
Amin Jaafari (Ali Suliman) struggles to come to terms with his wife’s double life and how she was able to mask her true intentions as a terrorist. He seeks to find the why behind his wife’s Siham (Reymond Amsalem) fateful act. He cannot quite grasp the concept that the person he loves has committed an unspeakable horror.
Parts of the story are told in flashback as Amin struggles to hold on to the good that was his wife. He wonders how someone who loved life could ever destroy it. In answer to his question, the film attributes her conversion to an incident she witnessed at the hands of Israel in the West Bank.
He is also judged by those he considered friends. The community believes Amin knew his wife was planning the attack. As a result, the once rising medical star that successfully assimilated in the Israeli community is no longer viewed as ‘a good Arab’. He is ostracized by his Jewish neighbors who fear him and distanced from his childhood Palestine friends who think of him as a traitor. In fact, when he tries to investigate his wife’s actions, most people begin to suspect he is an agent of the Israeli Secret Service.
Suliman’s portrayal of a husband who struggles to make sense of his marriage, job, and life in the community as it dissolves before his eyes is a powerful depiction of loss and betrayal.
Based on the 2006 novel by Mohammed Moulessehoul, (he uses the female pseudonym of Yasmina Khadra), Lebanese director Ziad Doueiri tries to present the story (in Arabic and Hebrew with subtitles) as an unbiased observer without assigning blame. He allows the audience to draw their own conclusions.
But, it is impossible for ‘The Attack’ to completely answer the questions presented in the film to everyone’s satisfaction. Quite frankly, those closest to the issue i.e. those living in the West Bank and Israel may never agree on the reasons for Siham’s actions. Diverging views emerge regarding her heinous act. She is held as a pariah in Israeli society and martyr in the Palestine West Bank.
As Americans can only guess the reasons for her convergence or her need to deceive the one she loved. It is not possible to tie this story in a neat bow. ‘The Attack’ presents an honest if not brutal tale of life in this war torn area.
‘The Attack’ is rated R for Sex and Nudity, Violence and Gore, with a Runtime of 102 minutes.