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Wednesday, 10 July 2013 00:00

'The Attack' takes on Arab-Israeli conflict

'The Attack' takes on Arab-Israeli conflict
Written by Diane Carson
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The likable, Israeli Palestinian surgeon Amin Jaafari lives and works in Tel Aviv. A skilled professional, Amin dearly loves his wife Siham, is acknowledged with an unprecedented medical award from his Jewish friends, and leads a productive, professional life. It will be shattered when police inform him of a suicide bombing killing 17 people plus his wife, the bomber.

Incredulous, Dr. Jaafari will pursue a tangled web of events and contacts, searching determinedly for the truth, following leads into Palestinian territories. At this year's Telluride Film Festival, director Ziad Doueiri described "The Attack" as a film about geography, identity, and ethnicity and "how well you can ever know another person, even someone you deeply love." Echoing that, in the course of Dr. Jaafari's investigation, a friend asks, "How can you know she isn't someone else when she's with someone else?" a question that haunts the film.

Based on Yasmina Khadra's (pen name for Mohammed Moulessehoul) 2005 award-winning novel of the same name, "The Attack" resists falling into clichés and stereotypes, something co-writers Doueiri and Joelle Touma worked hard to achieve, writing and revising over the six-years fighting to make the film. A combined Israeli and Palestinian crew further helped realize that goal, despite the bureaucratic difficulties shooting in Nablus and Jenin, on the West Bank, to which Amin travels in his search. Shooting there with an Israeli and Palestinian crew resulted in the film being banned in Palestine.

Surprising but motivated twists and turns propel this physical, psychological quest for truth. Dramatic lighting and shadows convey the secrecy in interior and exterior, private and public locations. As Dr. Amin Jaafari, Ali Suliman verbally and nonverbally registers heart-breaking events, with devastating revelations intensified by idyllic flashbacks with Reymond Amsalem superb as wife Siham.

Above all, "The Attack" personalizes terrorism and the struggle for peace. Clear-headed and intense, Amin refuses to turn away from painful details and the complexity of what he discovers in the Arab-Israeli conflict in a thought-provoking, poignant film. In Arabic and Hebrew with English subtitles, at a Landmark Theatre.

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