I don’t think I’ve reviewed Paradise Now here, although I mentioned it in reference to Traitor, but that’s okay because I can now review The Attack. Now, the movies actually don’t share writers, directors, just an executive producer (Amir Harel) and an actor (Ali Suliman), and yet this new movie feels almost identical to the previous one.
The main difference is that Paradise Now showed nothing but unchallenged Palestinian POVs that blamed Jews for everything where The Attack shows Israelis in a relatively positive light, at first, anyway, but ultimately gives the Palestinian POV last word.
The story of The Attack is that a celebrated Palestinian surgeon discovers that his wife was present at a bombing in a local café, and the authorities are accusing his wife of being the one with the bomb, and of him being in on it.
This isn’t a mystery: Even in the trailer, it’s clear that his wife did do it, and the movie is about the surgeon’s journey from denial, to acceptance, to understanding.
Just like Paradise Now, this is a good movie. But also just like Paradise Now, that last step is a doozie. In Paradise Now, you’re just assumed to have drunk the Kool-Aid. In this movie, there’s an attempt to make you understand the plight of the Palestinians through the surgeon’s journey. In the end, you still have to drink it, though.
And there’s where I have trouble: I believe both movies present highly idealized representations of terrorists, which makes them more sympathetic, but makes that final step impossible to contemplate.
I mean, seriously, no normal person says “Hey, you know what would improve things? Me strapping a bomb to myself and blowing up people at random.” That’s beyond “not normal,” it’s insane or just outright evil.
The movie excuses itself from showing this by having the surgeon investigate and come across bits-and-pieces of the picture which, I’m sorry, still don’t add up to “Ima blow myself and lots of other folks up.”
Also, the surgeon’s wife is Christian, which is pretty freaking rare in Palestine, working with Christian terrorists which I won’t, without a lot more independent evidence, accept, except as an attempt to pretend there is a Palestinian people independent of Islam, and thereby justify (as if it did) atrocities.
The movie also curiously and explicitly undermines its exploration of the wife’s motives in terms of the usual motivation for female terrorist (having brought dishonor to the family). I assume that’s, again, to justify atrocities as legitimate and self-originated, rather than pressure from an oppressive society.
Sorry, folks, if you don’t make your case clearly in your movie, I get to interpret it.
The Boy and I both looked at it like “Yeah, that’s interesting…but, huh?” Approach with caution.