“Amin Jaafari” (Ali Suliman) a Palestinian surgeon living and practicing in Tel Aviv, embraced by his Israeli co-workers, the first Arab to obtain an Israeli achievement award; at the ceremony he articulates his fervent desire to remain in his adoptive environment. Noticeably absent from this, the most important moment of his life, is his beautiful wife, of fifteen years, “Siham” (Reymonde Amsellem); the next day he must identify her remains, another victim of a suicide bomb that killed seventeen people, including eleven children. “The Attack” is a haunting, psychological story of political profligacy; gravitas, mangling relationships; astral secrets, shattering hearts; questioning our understanding of those we love and have devoted our lives to; are we even an enigma to ourselves?
As the plot (based on the novel “L’Attentat” by Yasmina Khadra) weaves from inexorable certainty to confounding disbelief, eventual profound clarity, Director Ziad Doueiri, without judgment, brilliantly penetrates the overwhelming intricacies of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict; what constitutes martyrdom; loyalties fractured, displaced by catastrophic phenomenon. Is the annihilation of children ever justified? Moving from the sophistication of Tel Aviv’s avenues to the neighboring cacophony of Nablus roads, one is exposed to the disparity of two worlds; perpetually bifurcated by religious and historical angst.
As Dr. Jaafari’s illusions and idealism are plundered; his comfortable cocoon blasted into a thousand shards of pain; we are unsure of how this man trained to heal, will adapt to horrific transformative circumstances.
The genius of the film resonates in the questions posed, but never answered. Perhaps, sadly there are no solutions, just small grains of optimism in a desert of gloom.
FOUR & 1/2 STARS