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Ali Suliman in THE ATTACK

There are no villains in The Attack, which is a strange thing to say about a movie which hinges on a (fictional) terrorist attack that leaves seventeen people dead, and several others maimed. That attack totally destroys the life of Dr. Amin Jaafari (Ali Suliman), when it is alleged that his wife Siham (Reymond Amsalem)–who also perished in that attack–was the suicide bomber. Up until that event Dr. Jaafari was a successful Arab living in Tel Aviv, enjoying as much luxury and respect as an outsider can.

The Israeli authorities are convinced of Siham’s guilt while Ali thinks there has been a mistake, and things look pretty bleak for the man until he is suddenly released from police custody. Dr. Jaafari attempts to piece together the puzzle of the final hours of his wife’s life and certain realities come to light–realities that simply cannot be ignored.

The true power of this film lies in its final hour. Because it offers up thought-provoking ideas about ideology, beliefs, terrorism and fanaticism.

Final Analysis: It is incredibly difficult to avoid casting characters as heroes or villains, mostly because it is so much easier to tell an audience how to feel when those demarcations are present. Director and screenwriter Ziad Doueiri (who adapted the screenplay from a novel by Yasmina Khadra) has total control over his narrative and Mr. Suliman’s performance is just pitch-perfect.

My Advice: If you’re ever in the mood for contemplative cinema, The Attack is a good bet.