The Insult starts out as an allegory about Middle East wrongs and resentments that’s so sharp you could cut your fingers on it. Then it expands beyond the allegorical into actuality, all while walking a razor’s edge of dramatic tension and clear-eyed humanism. The film […] [was] nominated for this year’s foreign language Oscar.
The plot concerns a petty feud that keeps getting bigger, watered by macho pride and memories of trauma. Tony (the charismatic Adel Karam) is a hotheaded Beirut auto mechanic, protective toward his pregnant wife, Shirine (Rita Hayek, serenely beautiful), devoted to his country’s right-wing Christian politics […]. Yasser (Kamel El Basha) is an aging Palestinian refugee, illegally working as foreman on a neighbourhood renovation project.
[Director Ziad] Doueiri has done time in Hollywood – he served as Quentin Tarantino’s first assistant cameraman from Reservoir Dogs to Jackie Brown, before returning to Lebanon to direct his own movies – and he understands that while all politics are local, character is universal.
Ty Burr, The Boston Globe
[An] electrifyingly brilliant film. […] [A] riveting courtroom drama that shows how even minor interpersonal tensions can boil over into national traumas. While the issues it engages are timely and important, the film’s claim to fame really comes from its terrific accomplishments on every front, from writing and directing to acting and cinematography.
Godfrey Cheshire, RogerEbert.com