I'm sitting in the third row of a very small theater, one seat in from the aisle. I would have sat closer to the center since most of my row is empty, but I came in during the previews and I didn't want to plop down right in front of the couple seated in the middle of row four. Why? Because I'm pretty tall, there's almost no slope in the theater, and I'm not a dickhead.
So the movie begins, and about two minutes into it, a couple walks in and they file into row two, which is completely empty. The woman sits one seat to my right, and the man, who's about six foot eight with enormous shoulders and a head roughly the size of the Jack in the Box dude, sits right smack dab in front of me, thus blocking my view of the bottom portion of the screen. You know, the part with the subtitles which I'm in the process of trying to read. I mean, what the hell, Jack! Surely you're aware that you're gigantic, that the theater isn't full, and that you're sitting RIGHT IN FRONT OF SOMEONE. Is it too much to ask that you move a seat or two to the right?
Apparently so. So I get up and move a couple of seats to the right myself and slink down in my seat so as not to block the view of the couple in row four who then proceed to whisper and loudly overreact ("oh my god!") throughout the entire movie. As opposed to the giant guy and his wife/girlfriend in row two who keep putting their heads on each other's shoulders and nuzzling. Because films about suicide bombings are oh so goddamn romantic.
And THIS is why I rarely go to a movie on a Saturday night!
Right then, on with the review.
Amin is a successful Arab surgeon living in Tel Aviv with his beautiful wife Siham. He and Siham are completely assimilated into Israeli life. They have a ton of Jewish friends and Amin is highly respected in his profession. In fact, as the film opens, he becomes the first Arab in history to receive a prestigious Israeli medical award.
The very next day, eighteen people - eleven of them children -- are killed in a suicide bombing at a restaurant where a birthday party is taking place. Thinking that Siham was safely out of town at the time, Amin is shocked to discover that she died in the attack. And as if that isn't bad enough, the cops tell him that Siham wasn't just a victim of the bombing, but rather, that she was the actual perpetrator, a fact which he adamantly disputes. In his pursuit of the truth, he heads to the town of Nablus in the West Bank to talk to some relatives who Siham visited shortly before her death. Meanwhile, the couple in front of me continues to snuggle, while the woman behind me gasps loudly followed by a prolonged back and forth whispering session.
It would be fair to say that the environment in which I attempted to watch this movie was somewhat distracting and possibly prevented me from liking it as much as I might have otherwise. On the other hand, there were several things that bugged me about the movie itself.
First off, though anyone who has ever watched a movie with me will tell you that I'm not the most astute observer of details, I knew something in the first twenty minutes that it took Amin the entire movie to figure out. I'm not sure if the director is guilty of ridiculously blatant foreshadowing or if the audience was actually supposed to be in the know. In any event, for a brilliant doctor, Amin sure can be a dope.
And a sheltered one at that, as he's seemingly unaware of the fact that Palestinians are oppressed until after his visit to Nablus. Perhaps he's been so busy with medical school and his career that he's completely tuned out the second intifada. (I assume that the movie is set in 2002 or shortly thereafter, because there are references to the fighting that took place in the Jenin refugee camp in April of that year, but I'm not really certain. Siham has a smart phone and Amin's sister has a flat-screen TV (neither of which I have even in 2013, Luddite that I am), so maybe it actually takes place in the present).
But my bigger gripe - and this is coming from someone who's extremely sympathetic to the Palestinian cause - is that while perhaps not outright condoning the intentional slaughter of eleven children at a birthday party, the movie seems to clearly suggest that it's unfair to hold those who abet the commission of such horrific acts accountable because, you know, they've suffered enough already.
Perhaps I'm wrong in my interpretation. Between the gasps and the whispering and the nuzzling I suppose it's possible that I missed something. But I don't think so.
While the premise of "The Attack" is certainly interesting - an affluent, assimilated, non-religious Arab-Israeli secretly plans and executes a suicide bombing unbeknownst to her husband -- much of what happens afterwards seems unrealistic. Actually, now that I think about it, even the premise seems unrealistic.
Even so, it's still worth a look. The first half is pretty good and the second half will at least give you something to talk about.
Just please wait until AFTER the movie to do it!