After watching a film, members of our film discussion group at my library usually first say what they like about a movie, whether that be the acting, music, or cinematography. We then move on to issues that the film develops. After seeing For My Father, an Israeli/German film about a reluctant suicide bomber, however, we needed a period to just try to figure out what we just saw. Many of us had questions. Why was Tarek on this suicide mission when he seemed to disapprove of the idea? What hold did the terrorists have over his family? Why did the fix-it man give him a new electrical switch if he suspected Tarek's mission? How did Tarek get into Tel Aviv so easily if their was such a high security alert? What attraction was there between Tarek and the shopkeeper Keren? Why didn't the vest with the explosives seem bulkier under Tarek's jacket? Why did none of Keren's friends show up for the party on the beach? If there was such a high security alert were there no police on the beach?
The discussion did eventually turn to issues. We were generally sympathetic to the plight of both Israeli and Palestinian common people caught in the middle of senseless violence. We thought that was the general intent of For My Father. However, I wonder whether having an atypical bomber was as enlightening as having a typical bomber who believed in his/her cause would have been. Then we might really have had something to discuss. Instead, the director took a rather Hollywood approach - lots of good guys and bad guys, insert a romance between two attractive young people, and create a deadline for the action.
For My Father was nominated for seven awards from the Israeli Academy, but it did not win any of them. It also won several film festival awards. With the hype, I expected more.
For My Father. RB Media, 2009. ISBN 9781440784316.