2018 | 113 minutes | Rated R
Ziad Doueiri’s The Insult begins with an accident: a drainpipe leaks dirty water from the balcony of Tony Hanna (Adel Karam) and splashes Yasser Abdallah Salameh (Kamel El Basha), the foreman of a construction company. It’s the kind of feud that could be easily resolved, if these were different men living in a different city at a different time. But they’re not: Tony is a Lebanese Christian who owns his own garage and watches fiery rallies on TV while he works. Yasser is an older Palestinian immigrant who used to be a civil engineer, but now, as a refugee, can only get hired for construction jobs. The setting is modern-day Beirut, still feeling the reverberations of the Lebanese Civil War that ended almost 30 years earlier. Even if you’re unfamiliar with the conflict, it’s recognizable: Two people are conditioned to hate each other, which allows a misunderstanding to snowball out of control. Things get ugly real fast—soon, the whole country is watching their fight play out in a courtroom. The Insult works best when Doueiri spends time examining the root system of hate. His characters are presented with hard questions: Is truth ever objective? Is it possible to separate the personal from the political?
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