“Seldom has a film contained so much rage and nuance at the same time”
It begins so mundanely, in Beirut, Lebanon. Some water leaks from Toni’s balcony onto Yasser, a contractor. Yasser, a Palestinian refugee, makes a comment, and the quick-tempered Toni, a Lebanese Christian, curses in response. Each of them feels deeply offended by the insults that the other spews.
The two share a dark history of victimization in all aspects of life. And precisely that makes this argument between neighbours escalate: first within their own families, and then on to a highly charged court trial and a national riot. In the end, however, they are forced to face their deep-rooted prejudices.
Director Doueiri flawlessly touches the raw nerves of a society still torn to this day. Thirty years ago Lebanon was in a state of civil war, and its dust has not yet settled. Although, as outsiders, we can imagine all sorts of things about the nature of such a conflict, it takes a good director to translate local themes and problems into a universal language. The storyline illustrates the way different cultures and population groups interact when they do not want to understand or listen to each other. This film makes it clear that everyone loses in such conflicts.
The Insult is already one of the most compelling and vivid dramas of the 2018 film year, which certainly makes it a deserving Oscar candidate for Best Foreign Language Film.