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The Attack – Movie Review

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Rating: A

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The Attack is a powerful tour de force that delves deep into the human heart and explores its darkest recesses with such passion and raw emotion that it’s impossible not to be riveted by its every frame. Unlike many other recent films that deal with Islamic terrorism, this one is an intimate drama that’s far more interested in dealing out long character-driven dialogue scenes than explosive suspense sequences (like in Zero Dark Thirty). Believe or not, that’s actually a good thing since these slower scenes allow the film to get to the very core of the issues like religious fundamentalism, suicide, and the never-ending Israeli-Arab conflict.

The story of The Attack follows Amin Jaafari (Ali Suliman), a reputable Arab surgeon, who lives peacefully in Tel Aviv until one day a terrorist bombing claims the life of his wife and 17 other people. What’s worse is that his wife may have been the suicide bomber who created the explosion in the first place. In an attempt to understand whether this is true or not, Amin sets out to learn more about his wife and the people behind the bombing.

Just like its source material — a novel by Yasmina Khadra — the film puts the plot on the backburner in favour of exploring the mind of its protagonist. Fortunately, the somewhat slow pace is never an issue since every scene reveals something new about Suliman’s tormented character and the Israeli-Arab conflict as a whole, keeping your eyes glued to the screen no matter what. In fact, The Attack is so psychologically intense and disturbing that the whole affair never gets dull, despite the fact that most scenes involve Amin interrogating various individuals — Arab and Israeli — about his dead wife.

As expected, the script portrays both sides of the conflict with equal respect (for the most part). That said, they’re portrayed in an undeniably cynical manner — since neither Israelis nor Arabs are shown to be interested in resolving the age-long conflict, preferring to stick to the same way of dealing with things as before. Arab terrorists are content with using suicide bombers as their main weapon, while Israelis are fine with keeping the majority of Arabs oppressed — with both sides ignoring the fact that numerous lives are either lost or ruined in the process. Predictably, The Attack doesn’t provide an easy resolution to this problem, but it does leave a few hints for those attentive enough to see them.

Of course, none of these issues would’ve resonated if the film didn’t have a talented cast of actors to back up the subtle nuances its deceitfully simplistic script. Ali Suliman undoubtedly deserves most of the credit for keeping Amin intriguing the whole time, despite the fact that he almost never leaves the screen. Other actors did a great job as well, revealing the inner nature of their often evasive characters through subtle emotional hints and other behavioural quirks. So, even though, we don’t get into the heads anyone but Amin, we still get to understand the characters he interacts with.

The Attack isn’t an overly violent film overall, but it’s still incredibly distressing due to how deeply it chose to delve into the human psyche. Unfortunately, its findings aren’t exactly pleasant or conclusive. So, if you’re looking for a suspense-filled thriller that provides a satisfying resolution to its central conflict, you’ll be sorely disappointed. But if you’re interested in understanding the dark side of human nature and discovering the reasons behind one of the modern world’s biggest conflicts, then I invite you to view The Attack since it’s a masterful experience from start to finish.

Review By: Taras Trofimov