'The Insult'

John Thomas

Two alpha males, Tony Hanna (Adel Karam) a Lebanese Christian and Yasser Salameh (Kamel El Basha) a Palestinian refugee both live with their families in Beirut, Lebanon. Even without having met, they are sworn enemies and their hostility towards one another (and their respective situations) lies scarcely below the surface of civility. Tony and his pregnant wife live in a neighborhood that is destined for minor building repairs as stipulated by the city. Tony’s place of work is an automotive repair shop just down the street from his flat. Yasser has been hired to oversee the repairs to the buildings in the area.

As Tony waters the plants on his second floor balcony, some of the overflow “accidentally” splashes down on Yasser as he and his colleagues pass below. The downspout is not to code, so that is the first repair Yasser attempts in the neighborhood. Tony wrecks the newly installed down-spout; Yasser responds by shouting an insult at him. Uh-oh, now it begins!

Tony complains to the construction manager that he has been offended and wants an apology. Yasser might feel ever-so-slightly inclined to comply, but at the last moment is unable to speak the words of apology. A punch is thrown and a hospital visited.

That first solution didn’t work well, so the next place to deal with a complaint of this nature is the police department. Knowing police involvement will create more serious and far-reaching repercussions, Tony heads there anyway. The complaint is filed, the investigation begins and an arrest is made. Now the two alpha males are headed to a courtroom, both with their egos firmly intact. Evidence is gathered, claims made, tempers rise and shouts fill the courtroom. Now the family and neighbors become involved. They, however, are insignificant compared to what happens when the media shows an interest in the case.

The conflict is reaching epic proportions as more and more people take part, who don’t even know Tony or Yasser but watch TV. Both sides feel enraged - the Lebanese for letting these refugees overrun their country and the Palestinians for having to be refugees and then being so poorly treated in this host country.

Rioting in the streets and media coverage both point to a potential civil war. The President of Lebanon calls for a meeting with the two “alphas” with hopes of ending this political catastrophe. This idea, too, is a “no-go” - like Yasser’s car as he attempts to start it after the meeting with the President. Tony’s car starts and as he drives away he notices Yasser’s stalled car in his rear view mirror. He backs up, stops, gets out and opens the hood, and fiddles with it’s engine. He shuts the hood and returns to his own car and drives away. Yasser’s car starts.

Directed by Ziad Doueiri, The Insult runs 112 minutes and is a “must see” movie.



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