The Attack Is Most Avowedly "About" Terrorism

Since it opens with a suicide bombing in downtown Tel Aviv and since its mystery plot involves a sheik whose public expectorations call for the slaughter of Israeli civilians, The Attack is most avowedly "about" terrorism. But that isn't its subject. The film is about love, trauma, and trust, both within a marriage and within entire cultures. There's an explosion (offscreen), much gumshoeing, and a nerve-racking interrogation, but this prickling thriller is too invested in life as it's lived to bother much with thrills — or even a traditional mystery. Not long after the blast, we're told who did it; director Ziad Doueiri then digs into the why. Ali Suliman stars as Amin Jaafari, an Arab-Israeli surgeon summoned before a Shin Bet investigator who insists that Jaafari must have been involved in a terrorist attack — after all, the suicide bomber appears to have been his wife. Despite the political urgency — the interrogator tells Jaafari his case has "destroyed all of the trust Israel has for its Arab citizens" — the film's heart is in wrong-man thriller plotting, mixed up with those chestnuts "torn between worlds" and "I married a whatnow?" We learn something of who Jaafari's wife was, right up to her martyrdom. And the most frightening thing is her loving decency.

 
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