“The Attack,” by the Lebanese director Ziad Doueiri (West Beirut), a former assistant cameraman on films by Quentin Tarantino, tells an unsettling story about Israel and Palestine. As it opens, an Arab surgeon Amin Jafaari (Ali Suliman) receives an Israeli prize for his life’s work. The same surgeon treats victims of a bombing that kills Jewish children, and the prime suspect turns out to be the surgeon’s wife. Amins is ostracized from most of his Jewish colleagues. After initial denial, Amin accepts that that hard evidence that his wife was the bomber, and travels to the Occupied Territories to find the sheik who taught and counseled her.
The film adapts a novel by the Algerian writer, Yasmina Khadra, who publishes under a pseudonym. Shot in a thriller mode that accentuates melodrama, “The Attack” breaks new ground (certainly in Arab cinema) by confronting the role that ordinary citizens can have in the killing of innocents. The film doesn’t go much deeper in finding answers to why a privileged person would commit suicide under the influence of extremists, but it reminds us of the distance that can separate the closest of companions. Criticwire grade: B [David D’Arcy]