starring Ali Suliman, Remonde Amsellem, Evgenia Dodina, Karim Saleh
screenplay by Joelle Touma and Ziad Doueiri, based on the novel by Yasmina Khadra
directed by Ziad Doueiri
by Walter Chaw Lebanese-born Ziad Doueiri, an assistant cameraman on Quentin Tarantino's first three features, demonstrates as a director the kind of elliptical reserve more commonly associated with Terrence Malick. Indeed, the most powerful stretches of his sophomore effort, The Attack, recall the fragments of The Thin Red Line that elucidate Pvt. Bell's wife's betrayal through a series of voiceovers, remembered conversations, and gauzy/idealized images of a bucolic existence that may or may not have ever existed. An adaptation of a novel by Yasmina Khadra, The Attack details the discovery by an Arab emergency-room surgeon based in Israel, Amin (Ali Suliman), that his wife Siham (Reymond Amsalem, who has the quality and pitch of Illeana Douglas--a wonderful thing) is the suicide bomber responsible for an attack in Tel Aviv, the casualties of which we watch Amin try to save. Amin has been "accepted" by the Jews, we understand, though there's tension throughout the early scenes as his friends and colleagues awkwardly navigate around him in a way that reads initially as condescending, then increasingly hostile as events unfold. Hannah Arendt would have something to say about this; so would Paula Deen and her legion of insensate followers. When Amin receives an award for his work, his acceptance speech includes the platitude that all Arabs have a little Jew in them and vice versa; by the picture's last words, "Every time you go away, a little piece of me dies," one wonders if he means the little piece that has empathy for the opposition's point of view.