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Release Date(s)2012 (November 12, 2013)
Studio(s)Cohen Media Group/E One
There was an ad for HDNet that, for awhile there, seemed to appear on every DVD and Blu-ray I played. Maybe you’ve seen it. It’s an assault of concert footage, sporting events, movie clips and Dan Rather proclaiming that television is no place to hide (although HDNet seemed like a pretty good place to hide since hardly anybody watched it). One of the things in the ad that stood out to me was a British journalist asking in a disapproving, vaguely accusatory tone, “What drove your brother to be a suicide bomber?” After watching Ziad Doueiri’s powerful drama The Attack, I really want to punch that journalist in the face for asking such an idiotic, unanswerable question.
Ali Suliman stars as Dr. Amin Jaafari, a prominent surgeon living in Tel Aviv. He and his wife are Arabs but apolitical and not practicing Muslims. In fact, they’re Christian. But Jaafari’s life is turned completely upside down when a suicide bomber targets a crowded restaurant and his wife is revealed to be the bomber. At first, Jaafari adamantly refuses to believe his wife is guilty of the crime but as the evidence becomes irrefutable, he goes on a quest to figure out why she did it.
The Attack raises a number of questions, all of which revolve around one central mystery: how could you be married to someone for 15 years and have everything you thought you knew about them turn out to be wrong? Suliman delivers an extraordinary performance. All his pain, confusion, anger and heartbreak is indelibly etched into his eyes and face.
Director Ziad Doueiri co-wrote the screenplay with Joelle Touma, adapting a novel by Yasmina Khadra. They’ve created a thought-provoking work that does an exceptional job of illuminating the Arab-Israeli conflict for Western audiences. When Jaafari returns home to Nablus to track down the other members of his wife’s terrorist cell, he finds himself even more ostracized than in Tel Aviv. It’s a remarkably complex story told with great sensitivity and insight.
Cohen Media Group presents The Attack on Blu-ray with a high quality transfer and a strong 5.1 DTS-HD audio mix. The disc is disappointingly skimpy on extras with only a very short (less than 5 minutes) video interview with Doueiri conducted by Columbia University’s Richard Peña, a photo gallery and the film’s trailer. An audio commentary would have been much appreciated, as I’m sure Doueiri has more to say about the film.
The Attack is a bold, provocative film that thankfully does not provide easy answers to the difficult questions it raises. Most importantly, it’s a deeply moving, tragic love story anchored by a peerless performance from Ali Suliman. It’s a mature, intelligent film that deserves a wider audience.
- Adam Jahnke