CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.
Film Review: Great Performance Anchors Devastating ‘The Attack’
CHICAGO – “The Attack,” opening this week at the Landmark Century in Chicago, is a melancholy, mournful piece about an unimaginable tragedy and a man faced with the realization that he may not know the truth about the woman he loved. It’s an accomplished drama anchored by an understated, captivating performance from an actor who fills nearly every frame of every scene. It is about an attack not just on innocent lives but a man’s very understanding of his family. It’s a strong alternative to blockbuster fare this weekend.
Ali Suliman plays Amin Jaafari, a successful Palestinian doctor working and living in Tel Aviv. On the same night he accepts an award for his accomplishments, he is called into deal with a waking nightmare. A bomb has gone off, killing over a dozen people, many of them children, and this doctor has to deal with the bloody aftermath. The horror becomes significantly worse when it’s revealed that his wife Siham (Reymond Amsalem) was not only killed in the attack but her wounds are consistent with that of a suicide bomber. Could the wife he thought was visiting her grandfather really been at the heart of a terrorist attack? Can we really live with someone we know so little about that they could end up a mass murderer to some and a martyr to others?
|Read Brian Tallerico’s full review of “The Attack” in our reviews section.|
Naturally, the revelation sends Jaafari spinning. He refuses to believe it at first and the cops (led by the fascinating Uri Javriel, popping up everywhere lately in films like “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Byzantium”) push Amin to admit that he was a part of the plan of the attack. Not only did your wife kill 17 people but you knew about it. The investigation seems to clear Amin but he’s still unconvinced that there isn’t more to the story. He heads off to Nablus to figure out what could have turned his wife into a terrorist or discover that the truth of the attack is not what he has been told.
Jaafari, through the remarkably subtle performance from Suliman, becomes a fascinating character in the context of peace in the Middle East in general. Writer/director Ziad Doueiri, working from a novel by Yasmina Khadra, gets at the deep emotional currents and complex relationship caught up in decades of turmoil between Arabs and Israelis. Jaafari is a man personally impacted both in his family and in the dead bodies of children he tried to save. Other than a few bouts of rage and confusion, Amin, like so many people on both sides, is trying to figure out how to move forward, dealing with both Israelis and Palestinians in his quest for answers.
Photo credit: Cohen Media Group