THE INSULT (L'insulte)


FEBRUARY 2, 2018 -- Director Ziad Doueiri tells the story of how one man's rather minor insult to another man escalated into criminal trial that ignites two different factions in present day Beirut.


Adel Karam plays Tony Hanna, a Christian Lebanese auto mechanic with a pregnant wife who lives in a condo with a few building code violations. While on the balcony watering his plants, water runs out the gutter and spills down to the street unto Palestinian constructions workers. The foreman, Yasser (Kamel El Basha) goes up to Tony's door and tells him that his gutter is illegal and leaking onto people below.

What he doesn't know is that Tony is a fundamentalist Christian party member and abhors the Palestinian refugees in his country and in his neighborhood. He tells Yasser off and slams the door in his face. Yasser leaves and orders his men to repair Tony's gutter so the water will stop spilling. The workers do, but Tony smashes the repair work and demands the workers leave his property alone. Yasser responds by calling Tony a "prick".


Offended, Tony goes to Yasser's boss and demands that Yasser apologize for the insult. In turn Yasser's boss requests Yasser to apologize which Yasser refuses to do. One thing leads to another and soon there is an assault, broken ribs and criminal charges against Yasser.


But when the criminal case doesn't go the way Tony expected, more emotions are shed and the next thing you know, Tony's wife (Rita Hayek) gives premature birth to their child - a child now struggling to survive. The case is re-opened with more charges against Yasser but this time with season attorney's handling the case. Tony's attorney Wajdi Wehbe (Camille Salameh) against Yasser's attorney Nadine ((Diamond Abboud) who happens to be his daughter.


The interesting study in social studies of the Middle east suddenly becomes a very westernized courtroom procedural like you once watched such as Perry Mason, LA Law and The Practice. You pretty much know the outcome and the edge the film had with the social-political implications is drowned with courtroom dramatics.


The story initially draws you in to the deep-seeded animosity between the various factions but is lost with a sell-out ending.


"The Insult" is a well intended film that gets it mostly right but tails off at the end to become a fluffy film of redemption and atonement when it could have been more profound.   -- GRADE B  --   GEOFF BURTON