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Film / The Insult

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The Insult is a 2017 film from Lebanon directed by Ziad Doueiri.

Tony Hanna is a Lebanese Christian with an auto garage and a heavily pregnant wife, Shirine. He is a fervent supporter of Lebanon's Christian Party, which agitates against the substantial population of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.

Tony and Shirine leave in a second-floor apartment facing the street. The drain to their balcony is a code violation because it drains water onto the sidewalk below. One day a construction foreman, Yasser Salameh, arrives on the street with his crew. Tony, who can tell by the accent that Yasser is a Palestinian, rudely refuses him entry to the apartment. When Yasser and his men repair the drain from the outside, Tony smashes the drain. Then he deliberately hoses down his patio, splashing water on Yasser below.


Yasser calls Tony a "fucking prick".

This unleashes a flood of disasters that include a trial, another trial, an assault, riots in the streets, terrorists attacks on Tony's garage, and the personal intercession of the President of Lebanon, as well as a threat to the life of Tony and Shirine's newborn baby. All of this is brought about when the feud between Tony and Yasser becomes a proxy for the fraught, tense relationship between Lebanese Christians, Lebanese Muslims, and stateless Palestinian refugees.



  • Abandoned Area: Damour, a Ghost Town since the massacre of 1976. Tony visits there near the end, apparently for the first time since his family fled in panic when he was six. He finds his old house, dilapidated but still standing, books still on the shelves.
  • Dramatic Gun Cock: Tony when he pulls out his gun to go after the guy spray-painting the Star of David on his garage. He winds up making things worse again when the motorcyclist that his buddies chase into oncoming traffic turns out to be an innocent pizza deliveryman.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After all that sturm und drang, Yasser is acquitted, the baby comes home healthy, Tony conquers his demons, and Tony and Yasser reach an understanding.
  • Feet-First Introduction: The click-clack of stylish high heels on pavement introduce Nadine, the hungry young female lawyer who takes on Yasser's defense.
  • Flashback: Tony has some brief ones of his mother running in terror carrying little Tony during the massacre. Then near the end he has a happier flashback of riding in a banana truck.
  • Jerkass: Tony, who never misses a chance to make the situation worse. He eggs on the initial confrontation with Yasser, refuses peace offerings from the construction company, vilely insults Yasser, and gets mad when his suit is dismissed, eventually blowing things up into a major news story. The fact that his anti-Palestinian bigotry comes from a terrible childhood trauma does not really make him less of a jerkass.
  • Not What I Signed Up For: Wajda the Christian lawyer is a big-time attorney, high in the Christian Party, and he takes the case for free. He does so in order to score political points by making Tony's piddling little assault case into a cause celebre and a major news story. Around the time that national news broadcasts are calling him a Zionist and vandals are painting the Star of David on his garage, Tony realizes he has gotten himself in way too deep.
    Tony: I didn't want it to be political!
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • Talal, Yasser's supervisor, who tries to smooth things over, bringing a box of chocolates to Tony and Shirine and trying to get Yasser to apologize. Instead Tony continues to act like a bigoted prick and Yasser punches him.
    • The judge at the first trial, who sees through Tony's crap and dismisses the case. Tony responds by getting a fancy lawyer and making things much much worse.
  • The Reveal: Halfway through the movie, a judge's angry "Counselor, let your daughter finish!" when Wajda is interrupting Nadine in court reveals that the two opposing attorneys are father and daughter. No one knew this and Tony is pissed off.note 
  • Third-Person Person: Reporters are grilling Wajda outside the courthouse.
    Reporter 1: Is this a smear campaign?
    Wajda: No, this is a tribute to Wajda Wehbe's career.
    Reporter 2: Your daughter is your opponent.
    Wajda: Wajda Wehbe encourages dissent.
    Reporter 2: Why do you always speak in the third person?
    Wajda: It sounds better.
  • Walk and Talk
    • A camera follows Tony and Talal, Yasser's boss, as Tony tries to pour oil on the waters, bringing apologies and trying to make amends. Tony the bigoted jerkass will have none of it.
    • A very similar shot later in the movie, with Tony and Shirine and Talal, with the latter two marching through the hospital hallways in a fury after the premature birth of the baby. Shirine will have none of it, although she's just as angry with her jerkass husband as she is with Yasser.