A glossier, more political "A Separation"
The Insult is an Oscar nominee for foreign language film and it is one of the stronger entries I have seen this year. It has the same basic concept of the 2011 film "A Separation" as two men become embroiled in a battle over a simple understanding. But what makes this film so good is seeing these two men, who are very similar in almost every way but where they were born, examine themselves and their hate is so engaging and exhilarating. While it never reaches the realistic and incredibly dramatic heights of "A Separation" it does tell a story of its own that is worth seeing.
The titular act of an insult being flung at one of the parties seems harmless at first. But as the film gains momentum, we find out that this is about much more than just an insult. That a Lebanese Christian and a Palestinian Refugee may have done things intentionally to aggravate the other based on heritage alone. It's an incredibly political statement and a fascinating look at the landscape of hate and bigotry in Lebanon.
Unfortunately, that isn't all the film focuses on. The first half of the film is really quite spectacular but once this movie moves into its courtroom scenes it loses so much of what made it special. It becomes sensational and often times over the top for no apparent reason other than that it is now in a courtroom. It's especially disappointing as the performances given by the two male leads are truly at their peak as they try to justify to themselves that their hate and bias when everyone around them is telling them to let it go. While the court stuff does tend to remain semi-entertaining, it is not nearly of the same quality and enjoyment of the smaller scale interactions that these men have with each other and themselves. If the courtroom scenes were able to hang onto that tension and intimacy it would really pop, but that isn't the case.
The movie is still great despite its flaws and it is a fascinating look into hatred not just in Lebanon but in humankind as well. It also imparts upon the viewer the importance of realizing that every single person brings with them a lifetime of experience, bias, hate, and memories into any conversation or confrontation and we can only attempt to understand them not dismiss their pasts.
Al Pacino Rating: