Movie Review: Terrorism grabs on to doctor's life in 'The Attack'

For the News-DemocratJuly 11, 2013 

What It's About

Whoa. "The Attack" starts out subtle, then it grabs hold and takes you on one man's harrowing journey through the unrest in the Middle East.

A successful Palestinian surgeon working in Israel seems to have it all. Accepted by Tel Aviv society, he is well-regarded by his hospital colleagues, has a good life with a beautiful wife, and Jewish friends who respect him.

One day, his life is turned upside down when 19 die as a result of a suicide bombing in a restaurant. Not only is his wife killed, but police suspect his wife Sihem set off the explosion.

He seeks answers, as he is convinced she is innocent. As he delves more into the case, he embarks on a quest in increasingly dangerous places and situations, but it's really no comfort. How could a woman he was married to for 15 years be a terrorist?

Jaafari, once so integrated into his adopted homeland that he was above reproach, now finds himself an object of suspicion as well.


As Dr. Amin Jaafari, Ali Suliman is superb. His torment grows, and we feel his hurt, confusion, frustration and anger. It's a compelling portrayal, and he leads us down a path no one would ever want to experience. Everyone can relate to his world being ripped apart in an instant, and he's a sympathetic character.

His wife Sihem (Reymonde Amsellem) is seen mostly in flashback, and she is certainly an enigma. She's not so easily pigeon-holed, which makes the story even more gripping.

What Works

Writer-director Ziad Doueiri, in adapting from Yasmina Khadra's international bestseller, has structured the story well, and it's gripping throughout. He doesn't preach, either -- he is straightforward in his approach, realistically presenting the conditions in those hotspot territories.

The unstable powder-keg adds an anxious element of fear, too. There is no easy resolution.

What Doesn't Work

The bombing victims are brought to the hospital, and those scenes are gruesome, no playing down the horrific injuries. So if you are squeamish, you will have to miss the doctors at work on the carnage.

3 1/2 stars out of 4

Director: Ziad Doueiri

Starring: Ali Suliman, Reymonde Amsellem, Evgenia Dodena,

Rated: R for mature themes

Length: 1: 42

Country of Origin: Egypt/France/Qatar/Belgium (subtitled)

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