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In today's Beirut, an insult blown out of proportions finds Toni, a Lebanese Christian, and Yasser, a Palestinian refugee, in court. From secret wounds to traumatic revelations, the media circus surrounding the case puts Lebanon through a social explosion, forcing Toni and Yasser to reconsider their lives and prejudices.
A deeper insight into a seemingly common insult made in Lebanon
I live and work in Lebanon for already a decade, so I'm well accustomed to local ways and habits, frequently "justified" through common phrases of the following kind: "This is Lebanon Only in Lebanon Welcome to Lebanon!"
In my ongoing increased attendance to movie theatres, and exposure to current repertoire, "The Insult" (original title "L'insulte", literal English translation of Arabic title "Case No. 23") (2017), was my last choice. Now that I've seen it, I realized that it should've been the first! Namely, while other feature movies from the contemporary repertoire, even those allegedly inspired by true events, are mostly telling excessively exaggerated, hard-to-believe stories, revolving around almost out-of-this-world heroes, thus flooding the A-movie market with commercial exploitism, otherwise exemplified in low-budget films, "The Insult", based on deeply insightful screenplay written by Ziad Doueiry and Joëlle Touma, and compassionately directed by the former, is richly soaked into (Lebanese) reality.
What starts as an every-day incident (cited in the title) in an average Beirut neighbourhood, within minutes grows into a bigger conflict between two ostensibly unreasonably stubborn personalities, and spirals out of proportion to a high-profile courtroom drama and a matter of an almost utmost national interest.
What happens here is not unknown (m)anywhere else in the World. It's only that in Lebanon it has greater gravity and impact due to well-advertised, for more than half a century closely monitored, media covered multitude of regional and local political problems, ever so easily reviving and fuelling age-old animosities based on ethnic, religious and sectarian antagonisms, as well as rivalries between the autochthonous communities and migrants--whether economic immigrants, or internally and externally displaced refugees--ergo plethora of political, economic and humanitarian challenges.
Actors did a good job, and although sometimes way to eloquent and theatrical, especially, not unexpectedly, lawyers in the courtroom scenes, at least they provide ample historical background which could explain but not justify all the buildup subsequent to otherwise an ordinary incident. However, silences and exchanged glances between conflicting protagonists, Toni, a Lebanese Christian (Adel Karam), and Yasser, a Palestinian refugee (Kamel El Basha), often speak even more than words!
The very ending is a bit vague, but so is the broader context, involving multifaceted interests, creating tensions, eternal conflicts whatsoever, sadly, with no solution in sight, neither at present, nor in the foreseeable future?
As it was mentioned by the end of the movie nobody has monopoly for suffering. I would like to add for happiness, neither, which makes it even harder to accept endlessly ongoing bitter realities people of (not only) Lebanon have to live.
All in all, "The Insult" is a fine courtroom drama, which keeps you at the edge of the seat. It is an almost perfect Lebanese movie, fairly cut even for international audience, well worth seeing.
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