Blog Directory CineVerse: Our verdict? The Insult is a must-see movie

Our verdict? The Insult is a must-see movie

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Quality films can easily be found beyond the shores of the United States – if you are willing to seek them out. A great example is The Insult, a movie from Lebanon that is relatively easy to understand and which strikes a universal chord, regardless of your ethnicity, politics, or sociocultural traits. The CineVerse faithful explored this picture last week, arriving at various truths and opinions about it in short order, including the following (to listen to a recording of our group discussion, click here).

What did you find intriguing, unforeseen, memorable, or otherwise about The Insult?

  • The verdict, that Yasser is found not guilty, feels anticlimactic after he manipulates Tony into hitting him, which triggers his long-expected apology. Fortunately, the filmmakers didn’t try to balance the scales by having both men found guilty, as the head judge hinted was a possibility.
  • It’s a surprise when Tony unexpectedly helps Yasser get his stalled vehicle started, despite the tension between them never being thicker than at that point. You could make a case that this good Samaritan act happens too early in the narrative, therefore defusing the tension and lowering the stakes. But the decision to not have Tony or Yasser talk during this moment or discuss this incident later can be appreciated. It’s a brilliant silent exchange in which so much is conveyed without words being spoken.
  • Likewise, the filmmakers possibly missed an opportunity to ratchet up the suspense ever tighter by not showing more of the peripheral effect of this high-profile court case and its escalation of the public watching it. We see a few shots of agitated people from both camps, and we are shown a TV interview in which a politician is asked about the case, but the filmmakers could have layered on more shots and scenes that underscored the gravity of this case and how it’s verdict could light a tinderbox. While it’s believable that the not guilty verdict for Yasser is likely the outcome that yields the least outrage and public violence, it’s a bit implausible to think there wouldn’t have been more anger vented by Lebanese Christians. Then again, the filmmakers are trying to tell a morality tale here that hopefully inspires viewers to tamp down their outrage and emotions and look at the court judgment from both sides while keeping an open mind.
  • The Insult contains two melodramatic subplots that arguably are unnecessary: the baby born with complications and struggling in the NICU, and the father/daughter lawyer conflict. Without these two side strands, the story and the movie would still have packed plenty of dramatic power and, debatably, would have been a bit more streamlined and less emotionally manipulative.

Major themes

  • The reopening of old wounds. Both Tony and Yasser, as well as many of their friends, family, and representatives, carry the psychological scars of the Christian-Palestinian conflict that has been smoldering for years. The insults and physical aggression Yasser and Tony direct toward each other, as well as the trial and the publicity surrounding it, are painfully tearing off emotional scabs that will be slow to heal.
  • The importance of feeling empathy and putting yourself in another person’s shoes. Tony and Yasser are each stubborn, proud men who are quick to anger and slow to make peace, serving as a microcosm example of how quickly some sociocultural and political conflicts between tribes can escalate, fester, and linger.

Similar works

  • The Official Story
  • The Battle of Algiers
  • The Collini Case
  • Inherit the Wind

Other films by Ziad Doueiri

  • West Beirut
  • The Attack

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