The Attack Screen 8 articles

The Attack

2012

The Attack Poster
  • ...While The Attack isn't explicitly anti-Israel, it does show significant sympathy for the Palestinian cause, and even for Siham, though it never goes so far as to condone violence. The film is, in its messaging, very moderate, seemingly suited to appease (or anger) Israelis and Palestinians equally. That it would nevertheless draw such an extreme reaction from the Arab League only indicates how illusory the film's opening scene really is...

  • Best known (ironically?) for playing a potential martyr in Paradise Now (2005), Suliman is an Arabic actor brimming with charisma and chops; forced to do the bulk of the film’s dramatic heavy lifting via angry victimization and grief-stricken confusion, the performer’s screen presence makes up for much of the first half’s faults.... Then Jaafari heads to Nablus to shake down clerics for answers, and The Attack turns into a listless verbal assault...

  • Telling this story from the point of view of the perpetrator’s anguished, bewildered spouse is an inspired idea, and it may work very well in Khadra’s book. Suliman, however, is the wrong actor for the job.... His performance isn’t bad, exactly, but it remains on the text’s surface level, communicating one emotion at a time—whatever the scene seems to obviously call for, whether that’s anger, grief, confusion, or (what the hell) more anger.

  • 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.” It’s a movie trying hard to suggest there are no easy answers, yet Doueiri can’t seem to help offering the audience just that.

  • The Lebanese-born Doueiri, who worked as a camera assistant on early Tarantino films, opts for an overall aesthetic that is unadorned and restrained. The result is a quiet power—so quiet in fact that the score is almost non-existent—that never risks sentimentality or exploitation. Harnessing natural light to great avail, he lets the regional locations, particularly Nablus’s old city, speak for themselves.

  • Sometimes the screenplay for “The Attack” (written by Doueiri and his partner, Joëlle Touma) hits the emotions a little too squarely on the nose, but this doleful and nuanced Middle Eastern tragedy is unlike any other recent film from the region in various ways.

  • In contrast to the novel, which habitually slips into polemicism and is bookended by a shock that dilutes its punch, Mr. Doueiri creates characters, emotional colors and political contradictions that have the agonized sting and breathe of life. Using Mr. Suliman’s nuanced turn as ballast... Mr. Doueiri creates a foundation of realism that makes an increasingly meaningful contrast with Amin’s idealized memories of Siham.

  • Sihem’s complicity is a fairly bold reveal on which to turn a story, and it could easily have veered into opportunistic melodrama. But the director’s focused restraint and Suliman’s wonderfully understated performance keep us grounded...

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