THE INSULT – A Review by Cynthia Flores

 
THE INSULT – A Review by Cynthia Flores
 
This film is amazing!  It manages to boil down generations of hate, and a history of mistrust between native Christian Lebanese people in Beirut and the Palestinian refugees who now live there, into a simple story of two men who let their anger and rudeness towards each other get way out of hand.  It reminds me of the parables from the Bible that could simplify complex ideas into relatable human stories.
 
This remarkable film from Lebanese-born American writer/director Ziad Doueiri is the first Lebanese film ever to be nominated for a Best Foreign film award by the Oscars.
 
Ziad started out in the movie business as a camera assistant for Quentin Tarantino.  After several other award winning films about his experiences in West Beirut, he has given us this gem of a film.  He was 12 years old when the Lebanese Civil War broke out in 1975.  So a lot of this is drawn from his own past.  In fact, the film begins with an actual incident from the director's personal life.
 
In the movie, Tony Hanna (Adel Karam), a Lebanese Christian, accidentally spills water from his balcony on Palestinian-refugee construction foreman Yasser Abdallah Salameh (Kamel El Basha) below.  He and his team are in the neighborhood to do much needed repairs.  One such repair is to Tony’s patio drainpipe so people on the sidewalk won’t get wet any more.  It’s done while he is not home and his pregnant wife is alone.  This angers him and he takes a hammer and destroys the work that Yassers’ team did.  Vicious words are spoken in the heat of the moment, which eventually escalate to a spoken wish for the elimination of an entire people.  That leads to a physical assault in the form of a gut punch, which results in a few broken ribs.  The incident ends up in court and the outcome is not what the injured party wanted so it escalates.  Once high powered attorneys take the case, not for justice but to garner more press for their causes, the fight becomes a courtroom drama and inflames tensions across the city.  The fallout leads to more confrontations and unwanted national attention.
 
The Insult is well shot and riveting.  You’ll see a lot of what we here in America are going thru when the press kicks up the dust around sensational court cases.  You see how quickly it can all get out of hand.
 
Like most Americans, I’m embarrassed to admit that I don’t know a lot about the Middle East except what I see on the evening news or that there’s a lot of conflict over there.  Other than that, I’m in the dark, but that's ok because this film, The Insult, fills in some of the gaps and gives the audience a peek into a really diverse place.  By using universal themes of prejudice and wounded pride any audience should be able to relate to the volatile situation.
 
This film is so good and we’re lucky that we can see it here in the states because it’s been banned in countries such as Jordan and Palestine.  That’s funny because its story springs from extreme responses to simple provocations.  I guess they are afraid those audiences will get pissed off at the story and life will imitate art.
     
The Insult is a great movie to watch and then talk about afterwards over drinks.  So I give this movie a solid A rating.
 
 
Directed by Ziad Doueiri
Written By  Ziad Doueiri, Joella Touma
Rated R
Running Time 1 hr 52 min
Drama Foreign Language
Release Limited Landmark Magnolia February 2nd
Starring: Adel Karam, Kamel El Basha, Camille Salameh, Camille Salameh, Diamand Bou Abboud, Shrine Hanna
 
 
The Selig Rating Scale:
 
A – Excellent movie, well worth the price.
B – Good movie
C – OK movie
D – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
F – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn't paid for it.
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