Cranking up the stalled Mideast peace process isn’t going to be helped by “The Attack.” The film puts a fairminded Arab surgeon squarely in the center of the moral divide between Israeli and Palestinian loyalties.
Dr. Amin (Ali Suliman) is about to receive a coveted Israeli medical award, when he gets a call from his beloved wife, Silham (Reymonde Amsellem), which he can’t take. The next day, there is a savage suicide bombing at a restaurant outside his hospital in Tel Aviv. Among the dead are 11 children. Also among them is his wife. The Israeli police believe that Silham was, in fact, the suicide bomber.
Amin has a big problem believing any of this about Silham. She was supposed to be visiting her grandfather in Palestine. She was supposed to be his loving, devoted wife of 15 years. She was supposed to be fully assimilated into the Israeli community, as is he.
Directed and co-written by Lebanese filmmaker Ziad Doueiri (the film is banned in Lebanon), “The Attack” is based on a 2005 bestseller by former Algerian Army officer Yasmina Khadra. With slow, but steady suspense, the story follows Amin’s odyssey to Palestine to find out the truth about his wife’s alleged double life. He returns with understanding… that the hatred between both sides of the Mideast conflict is too deep to be ignored. His surgeon’s mask of political complacency must be removed.
During the opening ceremony, Amin casually reminds his audience that this is the first time an Arab has received this award in 41 years. It seems to be a sign of healing.
By the film’s finale, Amin is a shattered man in a shattered world. Peace doesn’t seem to have a prayer.
See “The Attack.” It’s a well-made wakeup call.