2017 | Drama | 112 minutes | In Lebanese Arabic with English subtitles
Tony Hanna, a Lebanese Christian, discovers contractors fixing a gutter running from his balcony to the street. When Tony becomes aware that the worker, Yasser Abdallah Salameh, is a Palestinian refugee, he smashes the gutter and water pores over Yasser. They exchange insults, Yasser calling Tony a “fucking prick” and Tony shouting that Ariel Sharon should have killed all the Palestinians.They come to blows and the dispute ends up in court. When neither is willing to repeat the insults that were said, the case is dismissed. A new trial is set. Wajdi Wehbe, a pro- Christian lawyer defends Tony while her daughter, Nadine Wehbe, represents Yasser. The arguments in the courtroom inflame memories of the civil war leading to clashes in the street. It’s revealed that Tony himself was a refugee having survived the massacre in his hometown of Damour. The trial reaches a verdict, the accusations between Tony and Yasser are resolved. Can this be a sign that there is hope in the future of embattled Lebanon?
Why Stream This Film?
- Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 86%
- Metacritic Score: 72
Academy Awards: Nominated, Best Foreign Language Film
Palm Springs International Film Festival: Bridging the Borders Award
Venice International Film Festival: Best Actor (Kamel El Basha)
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The film plunges into the thicket of Lebanon’s sectarian divisions with a riveting courtroom drama that shows how even minor interpersonal tensions can boil over into national traumas. While the issues it engages are timely and important, the film’s claim to fame really comes from its terrific accomplishments on every front, from writing and directing to acting and cinematography. THE INSULT places director Ziad Doueiri in the company of such masters of politicized suspense as Costa-Gavras and Asghar Farhadi. A great director already, Doueiri is sure one to watch in the future.
There is something undeniably exhilarating about the film’s honest assessment in the never-ending conflict between decency and cruelty that rages in every nation, neighborhood and heart.
The film’s most telling aspect is that, as the courtroom confrontations and media frenzies heat up, both Yasser and Tony become, in effect, minor players in the larger drama being played out. The flare-up is a microcosm of Lebanese Christian-Palestinian tensions.
THE INSULT unfolds like a riveting play. It shows that even in the most hostile of situations, with all our prejudices in front of and behind us, we’re still in this together.
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