theattackA Shadow Amid The Debris


The Attack
Stars: Ali Suliman, Evgenia Dodena, Reymond Amsalem, Dvir Benedek, Uri Gavriel, Karim Saleh and Ramzi Makdessi
Director/Scriptwriter: Ziad Doueiri
Composer: Erik Neveus
Subtitled (Hebrew and Arabic)
3B Productions
Rating: R for graphic images
Running Length: 93 minutes
An attack could mean just about anything. An attack on the senses (strong odors), physical attack, emotional attack (death), medical attack such as allergy reaction, or, in wartime, an attack with a weapon. The title of this film, “The Attack,” brings three of the aforementioned into the story of a respected surgeon in Israel who finds his wife the victim of a suicide bomber in a restaurant. Here is the enigma of the story and of the surgeon’s marriage. Filmed the Middle East, we see, with the camera close at hand, how people are living there now. A day to day existence is whether there is a bombing nearby or not. Perhaps the title of the film could have been “War Zone,” for wars can be fought in territories as well as in homes. The soundtrack by Erik Neveus is remarkable in portraying what is going on around the surgeon, by using instruments familiar to the Middle East.
The film begins with the respected Arab doctor, Amin (Ali Suliman), who works in Israel, and is receiving a prestigious medical award. His wife, Siham (Reymond Amsalem) gone on a business trip, is not with him at his special time. In the middle of the night, he receives a phone call to come to work as there has been a bombing at a local restaurant. There is graphic film footage here of bodies and doctors trying to save lives and patients refusing to be treated by doctors of “certain” nationalities/faiths. Later, the police come to Amin’s home and it is then he discovers that his wife was a bombing victim, then, perhaps, the bomber. Soon, the police have imprisoned Amin with torture to implicate him, but he knows nothing and this is clear even to the police. Returning home to a destroyed house with graffiti on the walls, he has nothing left but the friendship of a collegiate, Falen (Ruba Salamen). Amin buries his wife---a Christian---and tries to get on with his life. Amin decides to do some investigating of his own and goes to his family, in another town, for comfort, only to find Siham led a double life, visiting some family members often and others, not at all.  She had her own bank account and was seen in the company of known radicals. The emotional attack on Amin is enormous as he tries to cope with more and more information on the past activities of Siham and his own position in society then. He thought his life was secure, but was it and is it now? Every person has a different take on Siham, from martyrdom (her picture is everywhere in the Arab areas) to she-must-have-been-brainwashed. This attack, is going to be thorough.
The acting in “The Attack” is what gives the story emphasis. Ali Suilman goes from a handsome doctor, head held high, to a man looking 10 years older, thin, gaunt and not sure of anything or anyone around him. Who do you trust? Reymond Amsalem’s Siham, story told in flashbacks, goes from a woman with a passionate marriage to a secretive person with a purpose. The two actors who make the story work are Ruba Salamah’s “Falen,” the doctor who works next to Amin day after day, helps him when he is down, and then gives her true self in a moment in a parking lot. The same with Amin’s nephew, Adel (Karim Saleh), who was helped through school, stayed at Amin’s home, and then, also in a few words, shows his heart. This can be as devastating as a bazooka through a brick wall. Along with this, we are witness to where people live. They may have apartments, but the walls are crumbling, debris goes for miles, warfare is as near as a next-door neighbor and everywhere are photos of Siham, the martyr, the suicide bomber, who killed 17 people and wounded many children.
A suicide bomber is a coward and Amin makes this point when he confronts one of the men who influenced Siham. They recruit people, preying on weaknesses such as ignorance of the other side, and misguided loyalties to send them out and kill, while the real perpetrator is safe behind thick walls, a shadow amid the debris. Children are collateral damage, as long as the perpetrator is still recruiting. Such is life in the Middle East as portrayed in “The Attack,” in which no one is safe and no one is a friend.
Copyright 2013 Marie Asner
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