THE INSULT — Review by Susan Granger

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Ziad Doueiri’s intriguing political drama is Lebanon’s submission for the 2018 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film and winner of the 2017 Venice Film Festival’s Best Actor Award (Kamel El Basha). In contemporary Beirut, there’s always an undercurrent of tension between Lebanese Christians and Palestinian Muslim refugees. Which is why a casual insult is blown ‘way out of proportion. Continue reading…

When Yasser (Kasmrel El Basha), a Palestinian construction foreman, attempts to repair a broken gutter on a balcony belonging to Tony Hanna (Adel Karam), a Lebanese Christian car mechanic who is watering his flowers, he’s splashed with water.

Then, when Yasser offers to fix an illegal drainpipe, belligerent Tony slams the door in his face, upsetting his very pregnant wife (Rita Hayek). That leads to an insulting vulgarity and Tony’s insistence on an abject apology, which Yasser initially refuses to do.

In reluctant placation, Yasser goes to the garage, just as Tony is listening to Bachir Gemayel’s anti-Palestinian speech. Carried away by the hate-filled verbiage, Tony tells Yasser he wishes Ariel Sharon had “wiped them out,” which incites Yasser to punch Tony, breaking a few of his ribs.

Their feud escalates exponentially until it spirals out of control, becoming a media circus. Eventually, the antagonists are embroiled in a legal showdown.

Tony’s case is ruthlessly fronted by Wajdi Wehbe (Camille Salame), an experienced lawyer, while young Nadine (Diamand Bou Abboud) righteously mounts Yasser’s defense.

As the drama unfolds, both sides are convincing since there’s enough blame to go ‘round.

In Lebanon, Christians comprise over 40% of the population; many of them bitterly resent the approx. 450,000 Palestinians who have sought refuge there, now comprising more than 10% of the country’s residents.

Co-written by Joelle Tourma and director Ziad Doueiri, the story revolves around the notion of sincerity versus stability, as the underlying sectarian grievances are aired.

In Lebanese with English subtitles, on the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Insult” is an explosive 8 – a tense courtroom thriller.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.