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Popcorn Preview: The Attack

05/10/2013 09:25 pm ET | Updated Jul 10, 2013

Film: The Attack (L'attentat) (2012)
Cast includes: Ali Suliman (Body of Lies), Reymond Amsalem (Rendition), Dvir Benedek (A Matter of Size), Uri Gavriel (The Dark Knight Rises), Karim Saleh (Iron Man 2)
Writer/Director: Ziad Doueiri (Lila Says, West Beirut), based on the novel by Yasmina Khadra
Genre: Drama | Mystery (120 minutes) Arabic and Hebrew with subtitles

"Why are you crying?" he asks. "I feel like every time you leave, a piece of me dies," says Siham Jaafari. Her husband, Amin Jaafari, isn't going far... the center of Tel Aviv for the Bar Eliezer event, where he's to receive this year's award... not only for his work as a surgeon, but also as a humanitarian. But that's not the most noteworthy part... Dr. Jaafari is the first Arab to receive this honor. The 8-second phone call is Siham... she calls just when they ask Jaafari to come on stage. "I can't talk just now." When he accepts the award, he acknowledges the tensions between Jews and Arabs... but goes on to talk about putting prejudices aside when a patient is on his operating table. "I believe every Jew is part Arab and every Arab is part Jew." A colleague later comments on Dr. Jaafari's way with words... it isn't meant entirely as a compliment. Israeli Arabs may have full rights and citizenship, but old mistrusts remain.

When they hear the explosion, the doctors know the ambulances will soon arrive. Dr. Jaafari holds nothing back when it comes to saving lives. It's chaotic, triaging the injured... no time to worry about the bodies and body parts coming in. It's a long day, made even longer by the tight security on the road going home. Nothing new. When Jaafari gets home, Siham is apparently still in Nazareth with her grandfather. He leaves a message on her cell phone. With the curfew, it's surprising that his nephew Abel shows up. Apparently, the last time Abel stayed over, he left something in the guest room and needs to pick it up. Jaafari thinks Abel should stay over, but he's determined to get going. Jaafari's exhausted physically and emotionally... "17 dead, 11 of them kids." When the phone rings, he hopes it's Siham, but it's Raveed calling from the hospital. "We need you to come back." Jaafari is sure there are other doctors to cover. "It's not about that," says Raveed. He adds, "Don't drive too fast."

When Jaafari gets back, they have a body that needs identification. Actually, it's just a body part... the upper part. No amount of training and experience can prepare you for the shock of finding your wife's head and torso under the sheet. "Tell me I'm dreaming," Jaafari says when he comes to. But he's not dreaming, and the nightmare only gets worse when Captain Moshe begins his interrogation. Jaafari has spent his entire career trying to see the good in people, but Moshe is used to seeing the worst. His accusations seem completely unfounded. Even though Jaafari is cleared of any involvement, there are still a lot of questions to be answered. The police have their investigation, but Jaafari has an investigation of his own. He not only wants to find out what happened... he needs to make sense of it. But at every turn, things get even more complex. There's a lot in this film to think about. Shot on location, we see the stark contrast between Jaafari's Tel Aviv life and the lives of other family members. Some accuse him of being "a man who doesn't know his roots." But when he tries to understand, he's told, "We could debate this for years, and we'd never come to the same conclusion." Perhaps not.

3 popped kernels (Scale: 0-4)
In the aftermath of a suicide bombing, a prominent Arab surgeon in Tel Aviv discovers his wife's connection to the events

Popcorn Profile
Rated: R (Violence, Gore)
Audience: Grown-ups
Distribution: Art house
Mood: Sober
Tempo: Cruises comfortably
Visual Style: Unvarnished realism
Character Development: Engaging
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Timely topic & Thought provoking

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