What motivates someone to be a suicide bomber? What makes someone want to strap an explosive vest to themselves and kill dozens of people who have done them no harm? Mostly, I think, it comes down to people doing what they honestly believe is the right thing to do. But what happens when a would-be suicide bomber's bomb fails to go off and he's left questioning his actions? That's where the heart of his movie, For My Father, lies.
The story centers around Tarek (Shredi Jabarin), a Palestinian man who has gotten caught up with a very bad crowd. They persuade him that blowing up himself and others is the best thing to do for his people. The fact that it seems to require several vague threats towards his family if he doesn't do it shows that Tarek is already quite conflicted, even before his bomb fails to go off.
In desperation after the failed detonation, he goes to a Jewish man who runs an electrical repair shop. He orders a new button and, in order to escape notice from the police, offers to repair the man's leaking roof in return. There begins a whole new life for him, where he gets to know the man and his wife and, perhaps more importantly, gets to know the beautiful girl who works across the street. But his old friends aren't so eager to let him go and make it clear that if he doesn't detonate the bomb, they will.
This is a very impressive film about a very dark subject and it doesn't shy away from showing both sides in Israeli/Arab conflict, making it clear that both have good points and both also are willing to behave badly. I find this especially poignant given that I'm writing this only a day after an unpleasant incident where Israelis bordered a cargo ship and killed some people.
The film is very well-written, very well-acted and expertly shot. It dragged a bit in a couple points, but nothing too severe and I found that it left me with a great deal to think about. That alone places is very high above most movies.
What makes someone be a suicide bomber? The answers are as plentiful as the people who do it, and ultimately none of the answers are very good.