Judge Bill Gibron was once accused of killing...an entire box of donuts in one sitting!
Suicide Bombs Away!
Some stains can never be removed. Given the right situation or circumstance, they can become as permanent as a unintentional tattoo. Take the mere accusation of child molestation. Even if the victim is mistaken and the target vindicated and cleared, the mark of having been accused of such a horrific crime can be just as damaging as the trial and conviction for same.
Similarly, imagine what it would be like if your loved one or spouse was a suicide bomber, taking innocent lives in defense of a philosophy which defined political agitation and terror by the number of bodies strewn along the explosion site, not the number of actual social victories won. Could you ever keep your friends and family from believing you were not compliant in said act, or better yet, were a well-plotted co-conspirator with an easily explained alibi? Such is the case in the interesting if flawed film The Attack. Thanks to its tired philosophical stridence, what could have been an absorbing character study becomes a pro-Palestinian rant.
As one of the few Arab doctors working in Tel Aviv, Amin Jaafari (Ali Suliman, The Kingdom) has done well for himself. He has the respect of his peers, a doting wife Siham (Reymond Amsalem, Lebanon) and a nice upscale apartment. Sure, certain Jewish patients don't want his attention, but our lead has done well enough to receive a prestigious honor. On the night of the ceremony, his bride heads off to some unknown meeting. Later, she calls but he dismisses her. The next day, an explosion is heard in the distance and suddenly Dr. Jaafari is treating the victims of yet another terrorist attack. Later, he discovers that it was his spouse that was responsible for the incident. Before long, our seemingly innocent man is being detained and tortured by the Israeli police, and when eventually cleared, shunned and savaged by those who once trusted him. Hoping to clear his and his wife's name, Dr. Jaafari attempts to uncover the truth behind the attack, and who was actually responsible.
It was his spouse. There. Spoiler Alert—not that this movie really needs one. The Attack is not out to play mystery or whodunit. It's not designed to be a real investigation. Instead, director Ziad Doueiri, who wrote the script with Joelle Touma (from a novel by Yasmina Khadra ) are out to prove that Israel is bad, Palestine is misunderstood, and any bloodshed in the cause for a homeland is excused by the whole Zionist/Jihadist thing. It feels blasphemous to mock the movie so, but its nobility is lost in a sea of stilted dialogue and near silent contemplation. Our filmmakers don't want to explore both sides because, in their minds, the Jewish issue has no excuse. It's all poor persecuted Palestinians and might making right over and over again. Not to make light of what is a continuing trauma for the planet, but such one sided dissertations do little except gin up the position being poisoned. While no one will be making a responsorial movie after this one, it's clear that Doueiri and company simply want to preach to the pissed off.
Still, it's an intriguing idea, one covered much more profoundly by the Danish film The Hunt. There, a respected teacher is accused of the big kiddie no-no, and we watch as his life becomes a circus of scandal and social outcasting. The reason that movie works better is because it leaves the ending up in the air, arguing that even though cleared, our suspect may not be wholly innocent. Here, Dr. Jaafari is a rube, his wife is Al Qaeda, and we the audience are left feeling like forgotten relatives at an exclusive family reunion. Like most concepts that take historically tricky material (race, the Holocaust) and turn it into tripe, The Attack is just out to push the Palestinian cause. No matter the collateral damage, it's all about the politics. Perhaps, with a more personal focus, the film could find its footing. As it stands, it's a decent idea deadened by a heavy handed, sledgehammer agenda.
The Blu-ray presentation here is top notch, except in the added content category. There, an interview with director Doueiri is dull and the trailer/photo gallery one step above a barebones release. As for the sound and image, the movie was shot on digital, so the eventual translation to a 2.40:1, 1080p transfer is very good indeed. The earthy colors of the Middle East match well with the dark maroon of the blood spilled. As for the sonic situation, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix offers limited immersion because…well, because so does the film. The dialogue (in Hebrew and Arabic with English subtitles) is easy to understand, but even the score is minimalist.
For Dr. Jaafari, the stain of being associated with his rebel wife may cause consternation and social pariah status, but in the end, it's the cause that matters, not the man. Too bad The Attack took this approach. Politics and polemics are redundant. Only the human experience can add the necessary insight into a situation like this.
Guilty. Good intentions. Bad execution.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: E1 Entertainment
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