The Attack Image

Generally favorable reviews - based on 24 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 16 Ratings

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  • Summary: Amin Jaafari is an Israeli-Palestinian surgeon who has fully assimilated into Tel-Aviv society. His picture-perfect life is turned upside down when the police inform him that not only was his wife Sihem killed in a terrorist bombing but that she was the suicide bomber. Amin immediately rejects their accusation, but his conviction is shaken when he receives a posthumous letter from Sihem confirming her role in the carnage. Shattered by the startling revelation, Amin abandons the security of his adopted homeland and enters the Palestinian territories in pursuit of the zealots who recruited her. [Cohen Media Group] Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 24
  2. Negative: 0 out of 24
  1. Reviewed by: Stephen Farber
    Apr 4, 2013
    Although the subject matter is inherently disturbing, it’s hard to imagine any audience remaining unmoved by this mournful tale.
  2. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Jun 27, 2013
    The Attack rewards your patience. Though it's never less than involving, it grows in stature as it unfolds and ends as a more subtle and disturbing film about love, loss and tragedy than we might initially expect.
  3. Reviewed by: Marsha McCreadie
    Jul 26, 2013
    The best kind of anti-war propaganda film, calm in feeling and mood, yet truly terrifying in showing the scourge of our age: terrorism, which can strike anybody, anywhere, at any time. It's also a love story, and a film about having it all. And then in an instant, losing everything.
  4. Reviewed by: Bill Stamets
    Jul 26, 2013
    The Attack is not just about an incident targeting Israelis. This is also the story of not knowing Palestinians.
  5. Reviewed by: Peter Keough
    Aug 20, 2013
    Though director Ziad Doueiri’s uneven treatment of this provocative premise suffers from contrivance and implausibility, it nonetheless arouses profound questions about fanaticism, cultural identity, and the essential mystery of other people, even those we think we know best.
  6. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Jun 20, 2013
    A gripping, personal examination of a seemingly unresolvable conflict.
  7. Reviewed by: Farran Smith Nehme
    Jun 20, 2013
    Despite a remarkable performance by Suliman, who’s almost never off-camera, events become increasingly pat and implausible, with one explanatory scene played like a shadowy variation on Kevin Spacey’s monologue in “Se7en.”

See all 24 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 6
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 6
  3. Negative: 0 out of 6
  1. Feb 9, 2014
    A reviewer wrote, "The film is particularly affective at conveying the senselessness of trying to make sense of a conflict that has gained nothing beyond a vast waste of human life." This reviewer failed to get the powerful point. Western people whose thinking is based upon Enlightenment thinking, namely, statement of principles, logic, evidence, and modifying the principles based upon the evidence, cannot understand Arab mentality. I lived in Israel for several years. The Arab accepts certain principles and their conclusions, but ignores evidence and reality. When we use the word senseless we are the senseless people for refusing to educate pre-Enlightenment people to modern rational thinking.

    Our hero visited Shechem, translated into English as Nablus, and visited a priest, who could not condemn suicide. This part of the story does not agree with my experience. Christians are not suicide killers, only members of the Islam faith. Bethlehem, where the Christian god was born, used to have a majority of Christians. The Moslems drove them out. Look at the numerical facts.

    Otherwise, the language, people, and scenery very accurately portrayed modern Israel.

    The powerful point is that since the Arabs do not employ modern rational thinking, they use emotions that are extremely powerful. The film gives an excellent feel of these powerful emotions. One of the very best I have ever seen. Once we ignore rational thinking and evidence, we can be subject to powerful, deadly forces. The lesson is that we must not give up hope, but keep struggling for rationality.
  2. Jul 1, 2013
    In the center of the movie is a renown Palestinian doctor working in a hospital in Tel Aviv. He receives an honorable award for his life-time career as a surgeon.

    But soon after he learns that his wife had a secret life and became a suicide bomber who killed 17 people, most of them children.

    The movie brings up many questions but does not offer any answers. What was especially interesting to me in that movie that it raised a question of split loyalties or affiliations. Black and white becomes grey, right and wrong intermingle.

    The movie was boycotted by Arab League and banned in Lebanon.
  3. Jul 4, 2013
    “The Attack” is the story of a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv that impacts on the life of the Palestinian-born but totally assimilated Israeli educated and trained surgeon when he learns that a person extremely close to him is the perpetrator of the terrorist act. This film, partly in Arabic and partly in Hebrew (with subtitles) captures the emotions of both Arabs and Jews regarding such acts and each of their perspectives as to the horror and, in a warped way, their justification of them. Palestinian actor Ali Suliman plays the doctor and Israeli actress Reymond Amsalem his wife in this sometimes slow but nevertheless steady and interesting drama as our lead character seeks to find out why and how this crime was planned and performed. Directed by Ziad Doueiri who co-wrote the screenplay with Jollie Touma and Yasmina Khadia, these Arab creators attempt to examine and explain both sides of those engaged in this almost never ending conflict. Their efforts are indeed frustrated since the Arab reaction to the film is that it is not harsh enough towards the Israelis and the Israeli response is that it goes too far in seeing to humanize the plight of the Palestinians. Indeed, the Arab backers of the film withdrew their names in protest and regretted their not having read the script first. As a result the film has been boycotted by most Arab nations and criticized by many Israelis. They say a fair settlement of a dispute is when each side leaves the table unhappy. Here, too, the problems facing the respective factions are complex and so, with no easy way to paint an objective picture of the participants and their respective causes, neither one is satisfied at the result. This film educates and helps us, in some small way, to understand the complexities of the issues and their moral and ethical aspects. I give the film an 8 and recommend that, for its insight alone (in addition to fine performances) the film is definitely a must see. Expand
  4. Sep 22, 2013
    Women make the best suicide bombers. They receive more media attention and generate greater mass hysteria. If they can kill innocent children, this creates the best publicity possible. The Attack, a film by Ziad Doueiri deals with such suicide bombing connected to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. The story is told in such a powerful and inventive way that I left the theatre feeling as if my emotional center had been extracted, run over by a train, and then transplanted back inside. One way I seem to judge how good a film is is by how bad it makes me feel.

    After seeing The Attack I thought immediately of Paradise Now (2005). It has the same lead actor and both films involve Tel Aviv bombings, but while Paradise Now’s suspense is generated by mystery involved in the story’s unfolding climaxing in a mega-unsettller of an ending, The Attack gives away all its plot secrets in the first act. The major conflict of the film takes place early. Climax hit, mystery solved, we are out to examine why the events happened. The film opens with the protagonist’s highest moment, so from here down is the only way to go.

    Amin Jaafari, an ultra-successful Arab surgeon living in Tel Aviv receives a career achievement award. In his acceptance speech he praises a non-existent armistice of hostility between the Arab world and Israel. The irony of this speech is played out over and over again as he suffers blow after blow demonstrating the error of his judgment.

    There is a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv and Jaafari’s wife disappears. She has forgotten her cell phone. All things lighting, photography and mood point to “oh no, she’s been killed.” Shockingly, not only has she been killed, she was actually responsible; She was the bomber. Married for 15 years, Jaafari tries to persuade others that he knew his wife well, that she could never do anything so terrible; we spend very little time wondering or investigating the trivialities of whether or not she did the deed. He gets a letter that was mailed before the bombing. It admits to the bombing and pleads, “Don’t hate me.”

    This secret disclosed, Jaafari goes to Palestine to track down the people who organized her suicide. What we find out in Palestine is a wrenching tale of Jaafari’s own search for answers. He tries to come to terms with his wife as a mass murderer while at the same time still being madly in love with her. The more he mourns, the bigger the atrocity of his wife’s deed becomes, and ever the more realistic.

    Jaafari’s fall from grace is a vivid representation that tragedy can strike at any time, to anyone. After seeing this film we are left with a striking awareness of our own vulnerability. Seeing an affluent, successful surgeon being betrayed by his wife, his family, his profession, and both of his home states leaves little hope for those of us that are less successful, non-surgeons.

    Jaafari’s was ignorant. He disregarded all the signs, saw only what he wanted to see, and this contributed to his ultimate demise, but he was not exceptionally oblivious, nor was he in any way malicious or evil. He was human. We leave theatres hopefully trying not to make the same mistakes.
  5. Sep 12, 2013
    This review contains spoilers. So articulate, so precocious, and most scarily, so proselytized by ideology, this young Palestinian girl is, in Jenin Jenin(the 2003 documentary about the aftermath of a levelled West Bank refugee camp by the Israeli army), that the little moppet comes across as an actor in a propaganda film. The Battle of Jenin, what the widowed doctor's brother-in-law says was the pivotal event that militarized his Christian and assimilated sister, in The Attack, killed 52 of her fellow countrymen, when the Israelis deployed commando forces, assault helicopters, and armored bulldozers indiscriminately on men, women, and children. Amid the ruins, staring into the camera's eye, the young girl doesn't blink, as she expels a rhetoric that implicates Jenin as the launch site for terrorist activities against Israel, therefore invalidating the notion of baffled innocence by the other interviewees. "Fighting the enemy, this doesn't mean I'm cruel. I defend my people," says the steely young lady, an apologia which befits the terrorist, including Siham, the doctor's wife, who, despite walking into a Tel Aviv restaurant with a bomb, is otherwise, the kind and loving woman we see in flashbacks. "And we used to say our women still exist," the Jenin survivor recalls wistfully, the sort of woman like Salma, a farmer, in Eran Riklis' Lemon Tree, who endures the abuse imposed by her new neighbor, where in the final scene, we see a lemon grove, debased by a totalitarian policy, and a wall, separating the non-violent crusader from the Israeli Defense Minister. Looking towards the future, the would-be suicide bomber adds, "They'll become stronger and braver than ever," or in other words, this charismatic child, unlike Siham, who lived peacefully among the Jews, won't make the same concessions as her fictitious counterpart, a collaborator, some would say, because she arrives as a fully-fledged ideologue, spared the intervention of Christians, who make allowances for subjugation as a means to maintain the peace. An uncompromising extremist, stating so on the record about her great disdain for the Israelis, she won't need a whole lot of convincing, one would suspect, when it's her turn to be strong and brave, a martyr for the cause. Fearless and steeped in nationalistic pride, one wishes that the Christians reached out to this goner. At an early age, one surmises, the Christians got to Siham, but too much collateral damage, evidently, along the way, spirited the Jesus out of her heart. The sleeper cell in Tel Aviv, not so coincidentally, launches the preliminaries of their plan on the night that Siham's husband, an apolitical surgeon, receives a lifetime achievement award in medicine. These terrorists, pragmatic killers with a flair for irony, can't reconcile the idea of an Arab saving Israeli lives, when for generations, Arab lives weather an inherited degradation, a degradation seemingly compounding itself since no end to the occupation is in sight. With their identities saddled by an unwarranted hyphenation(Arab-Israeli), and their land, expropriated land, according to the Palestinians, Siham, like so many fundamentalists, feel that they have no choice but to turn the stolen land into bloody land. Siham, albeit not the blank slate like "She", the female suicide bomber in Day Night Day Night, who prays to an enigmatic "him", en route to blowing up Times Square, all the viewer has by way of passage into her compromised headspace is a maddeningly vague suicide letter. To Amin, she writes, "No child is safe if it has no country," a concept derived from the "eye for an eye" form of repercussive punishment, which the Qur'an asserts is reserved for the Children of Israel. Even a pacifist such as Emad Burmat, a local guerilla filmmaker in 5 Broken Cameras, finally admits that "clinging to nonviolent ideas isn't easy," after a 17-year old boy is gunned down by soldiers in a neighboring village. What will be Emad's breaking point before he trades in his sedimentary projectiles for household bombs? At the Jenin site, we see the words "Ground Zero", an iconographic pronouncement that has the look of an anachronism, since the graffiti is written in English, not Arabic. Meant to evoke 9/11, the English is for an American audience, the same Americans who asked, "Why do they hate us?" following that fateful day in 2001. Unlike us, the Palestinians, arguably, have a legitimate gripe, not a naive one, when they ask that same question, since they're the colonized, not the colonizers. They attack from the vantage point of an underdog. In Hany Abu-Assad's Paradise Now, the handler assures Said and Khaled that an angel will meet them on the other side. Only Said goes through with the plan, perhaps, because of his inexperience with earthly pleasures. He seems like a boy around Suha. But Siham is a female. There will be much confusion among the 72 virgins in heaven when they meet her, a woman in drag. Collapse
  6. Jun 30, 2013
    The successful career of an Arab surgeon living in Israel is shattered after his wife is killed in a bombing. When he discovers that she was the terrorist, he sets out to find her recruiters. The events leading up to his quest are somewhat involving, but once he leaves for Palestine, the pacing slows. Couple this with too much vague discussion about ideals and the momentum slams to a stop. What could have been a gripping investigation into the subject, falters with ineffective filmmaking. (In subtitles) Expand