The Insult Screen 6 articles

The Insult


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  • Doueiri belabors Tony and Yasser's commonalities for a hopeful and humanist conclusion. We're supposed to sympathize with both men, but Tony is such a tedious hothead that the extension of empathy is hard to swallow, even with a deck-stacking twist in the third act. The film pivots on the sort of false equivalency that dogs liberal discussions of American politics: Doueiri is so eager for a nuanced argument that he's too easy on his dogmatic opponents.

  • That the film has reportedly been met with some controversy at home likely says something about the contentiousness of the issues involved. But regardless of its high aims, most of what The Insult offers—unlikely last-minute reveals, argumentative lawyers, stone-faced judges—is the stuff of a diverting, junky courtroom drama.

  • As drama, it's only about halfway convincing, but as a rhetorical intervention against Lebanon’s legacy of division it has merit. Doueiri uses the parable-like nature of the story to address and explain regionally specific military and ideological conflicts that even liberal-progressive Western audiences have probably lumped under “The Middle East.” And for Lebanese viewers, a film that balances empathy and criticism of both factions and their leadership should prove challenging or cathartic.

  • With fluid, careening camerawork and a heavy-handed score that underlines every dramatic inflection, the film revels in the Law & Order–style sensationalism of the courtroom. . . . For all its bluntness, however, the questions The Insult contemplates are as intractable and elusive as those in The Attack.

  • The film might be a high-concept allegory, but it’s also a riveting legal drama about the nature of justice and the buried resentments of the past. And it’s yet another deeply personal work from Doueiri, whose work regularly tackles the complex tangle of allegiances in the modern Middle East.

  • The year is not even two weeks old but it already has one electrifyingly brilliant film to its credit. “The Insult” 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.

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