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The Insult Review

Double Standard Insult

There have been endless films portraying life in the current Middle East. Ziad Doueiri's "The Insult" presents us with what is, to me, a virtually unexplored situation in the area. We have been bombarded with Israelis vs. Palestinians and different warring Muslim factions, but here we have bad blood between Christians and displaced Palestinians in Lebanon.

In Beirut, Yasser (Kamel El Basha), a Palestinian refugee, is in charge of a work detail assigned to correct building violations. Yasser begins repairs on a drainpipe protruding from the home of Tony (Adel Karam), a Lebanese Christian. 

Tony responds by spraying Yasser and his workers from a hose. He doesn't want any Palestinians working on anything that has to do with him. Undaunted, Yasser continues with the repairs. Tony then destroys the work of Yasser, who hurls an expletive back at Tony in response.

Being insulted by a Palestinian is an abomination to Tony, and he goes to Yasser's boss and demands a formal face-to-face apology from Yasser. Yasser doesn't feel he owes Tony an apology, but under threat of losing his job, he goes with his boss to where Tony works as a car mechanic. 

A tense standoff ensues and Tony tells Yasser that he wishes that Israeli general Ariel Sharon had murdered every single Palestinian. Yasser responds by punching Tony and cracking two of his ribs. Their dispute ends up in court and the rest of "The Insult" is about the bigger political and social issues underneath the surface of this clash of individuals.

"The Insult" is a good, and sometimes very good movie. Where Doueiri goes a bit off-course are his constant attempts to make it bigger than the case at hand. Everyone watching already knows this, but he keeps slapping us with it. There is also the distraction of making one attorney the daughter of the other one. It's a worthless and forced sub-plot. The only thing everyone in the film can agree upon is that Israel is evil, and therefore that every Arab is a victim, so can't we all just get along. Some insults are apparently just fine.

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