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Thomas Bo Larsen,
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Dr. Amin Jaafari is an assimilated Arab surgeon who seems to have it all with a promising career with honors among the Israelis in Tel Aviv. That all changes after a devastating terrorist suicide bombing and his beloved wife, Siham, is found among the dead as the primary suspect. Although initially refusing to accept that as Shin Bet interrogates him, Amin comes to realize the allegations are true. Now, the ostracized Amin resolves to find out on his own why Siham had so strong a conviction that she kept secret from him. However, the answers prove hard to come by and the truths involved have a terrible pain of their own. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (email@example.com)
Women make the best suicide bombers. They receive more media attention and generate greater mass hysteria. If they can kill innocent children, this creates the best publicity possible. The Attack, a film by Ziad Doueiri deals with such suicide bombing connected to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. The story is told in such a powerful and inventive way that I left the theatre feeling as if my emotional center had been extracted, run over by a train, and then transplanted back inside. One way I seem to judge how good a film is is by how bad it makes me feel.
After seeing The Attack I thought immediately of Paradise Now (2005). It has the same lead actor and both films involve Tel Aviv bombings, but while Paradise Now's suspense is generated by mystery involved in the story's unfolding climaxing in a mega-unsettller of an ending, The Attack gives away all its plot secrets in the first act. The major conflict of the film takes place early. Climax hit, mystery solved, we are out to examine why the events happened. The film opens with the protagonist's highest moment, so from here down is the only way to go.
Amin Jaafari, an ultra-successful Arab surgeon living in Tel Aviv receives a career achievement award. In his acceptance speech he praises a non-existent armistice of hostility between the Arab world and Israel. The irony of this speech is played out over and over again as he suffers blow after blow demonstrating the error of his judgment.
There is a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv and Jaafari's wife disappears. She has forgotten her cell phone. All things lighting, photography and mood point to "oh no, she's been killed." Shockingly, not only has she been killed, she was actually responsible; She was the bomber. Married for 15 years, Jaafari tries to persuade others that he knew his wife well, that she could never do anything so terrible; we spend very little time wondering or investigating the trivialities of whether or not she did the deed. He gets a letter that was mailed before the bombing. It admits to the bombing and pleads, "Don't hate me."
This secret disclosed, Jaafari goes to Palestine to track down the people who organized her suicide. What we find out in Palestine is a wrenching tale of Jaafari's own search for answers. He tries to come to terms with his wife as a mass murderer while at the same time still being madly in love with her. The more he mourns, the bigger the atrocity of his wife's deed becomes, and ever the more realistic.
Jaafari's fall from grace is a vivid representation that tragedy can strike at any time, to anyone. After seeing this film we are left with a striking awareness of our own vulnerability. Seeing an affluent, successful surgeon being betrayed by his wife, his family, his profession, and both of his home states leaves little hope for those of us that are less successful, non-surgeons.
Jaafari's was ignorant. He disregarded all the signs, saw only what he wanted to see, and this contributed to his ultimate demise, but he was not exceptionally oblivious, nor was he in any way malicious or evil. He was human. We leave theatres hopefully trying not to make the same mistakes.
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