Review: The Insult – L’insulte (2017)

The Insult – L’insulte (2017)

Directed by: Ziad Doueiri | 112 minutes | drama | Actors: Adel Karam, Kamel El Basha, Camille Salameh, Diamand Bou Abboud, Rita Hayek, Talal Jurdi, Christine Choueiri, Julia Kassar, Rifaat Torbey, Carlos Chahine, Georges Daoud, Christina Farah, Elie Njeim

Every country has its traumas. The Netherlands are World War II, Spain are civil wars, Japan are nuclear attack, Rwanda are massacre. And Lebanon? Lebanon has the Lebanese Civil War, an event that is difficult to recount due to its complexity. Between 1975 and 1990, just about everyone fought everyone in Lebanon. Christians, Muslims, Palestinians, mercenaries, even Japanese. Countries outside Lebanon also participated enthusiastically, resulting in 250,000 deaths and 1 million refugees.

Not surprisingly, even 40 years later, a minor incident between former Lebanese enemies can turn into a drama. That’s what we see in the compelling ‘The Insult’. A Christian and a Palestinian get into a fight when something goes wrong during construction work. A Christian homeowner splashes a Palestinian foreman before insult follows insult. The incident grows into a lawsuit involving half the country. Old enmities are being revived and it seems only a matter of time before things get completely out of hand.

Despite the explosive subject matter, this story makes for an amazingly nuanced and objective film. It soon becomes clear that both Christians and Palestinians carry deep wounds from the past. The difference between perpetrator and victim disappears, the depressing situation in which both find themselves is all that remains.

The screenplay of ‘The Insult’ is very even, so that we hardly notice how the conflict is getting more and more intense and miserable. In addition, there are some small twists in the story and we also take a look at the private lives of the main characters. The acting is fine, which also helps less important characters are nicely developed.

All you can fault ‘The Insult’ is that the story follows the beaten track, from the incident to the inevitable lawsuits. But because the interpretation is so strong, you can immediately forget that minus. After ‘Waltz with Bashir’ (2008) and ‘Lebanon’ (2009), the Lebanese civil war provides another memorable film. Is that trauma still good for something?

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