for Cinetalk.net

Ziad Doueiri’s fourth feature, The insult, is the first ever Lebanese film to get nominated for an Oscar in the Best Foreign Language Film Category.

Modern day Beirut. A plain and simple insult, over a trivial matter, causes a confrontation between a Lebanese Christian, Tony, and a Palestinian construction worker, Yasser. While being zealous in trying to obtain what he considers a proper apology, Toni sets in motion a lot more than what he bargained for.

The insult is about tolerance, consequently it is also about intolerance, its roots and its insidious consequences. What starts as a minor incident slowly gets totally out of proportions. Disgraceful, but private words are said. It leads to unfortunate gestures, then the law comes in. As they carry on, both men are the victims of a national media circus, becoming proxy of two clans with opposite agendas.Their story is the microcosm of their society.

Both lead actors in The Insult, Adel Karam (Tony) and Kamel El Basha (Yasser), carry the film on their shoulders. They boost strong performances. El Basha, mainly a stage actor in Palestine, is almost an unknown on the big screen. He deserves the best Actor Award he won at the Venice Film Festival.

Using the metaphor, but with a straight forward approach, Doueiri set his mind on depicting a complex and delicate subject. For dramatic purpose he takes sometimes a few shortcuts to advance the plot and chooses not to be too didactic, but he manages well with the uneasy task he put on to depict how conflicts can go into proportions. While it can feel a bit like a lecture at times, The Insult is still significant, captivating and much needed.

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