Incitement (2019)

The mid-‘90s assassination of then Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin is radically told from the point-of-view of the assassin in this urgent and incisive sociopolitical-thriller about the dangers of holding extremist worldviews.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Dir. Yaron Zilberman
2019 | Israel | Drama/History/Thriller | 123 mins | 1.37:1 | Hebrew
M18 (passed clean) for mature themes

Cast: Yehuda Nahari Halevi, Amitay Yaish Ben Ousilio, Anat Ravnitzki
Plot: Details the year leading to the assassination of Israel’s Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin from the point of view of the assassin.
Awards: Official Selection (Toronto)
International Sales:
WestEnd Films

Accessibility Index
Subject Matter: Slightly Mature – Politics, History
Narrative Style: Slightly Complex
Pace: Normal
Audience Type: Slightly Arthouse

Viewed: Screener – Perspectives Film Festival 2020
Spoilers: No

Incitement comes with quite a fair bit of buzz as Israel’s official submission to the Oscars for Best International Feature, and winning Best Film from their country’s own Academy Awards. 

As a big fan of history-based political-thrillers, I’ve been wanting to see Incitement.  It doesn’t disappoint, though it isn’t exactly a truly great film in any respect. Still, as a cinematic history lesson, Incitement is valuable. 

Although focused on an incident that happened more than two decades ago—the assassination of then Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin—Incitement is terribly urgent as it reveals political, religious and racial fault lines that remain contentious in many parts of our world today. 

Directed by Yaron Zilberman (A Late Quartet, 2012) in his third feature, Incitement is radically dramatised from the point-of-view of the assassin, Yigal Amir (who is still serving his life sentence), whose extremist worldview as an Orthodox Jew creates in him the psychological impetus to want to kill his own Prime Minister ‘for the greater good’. 

“You people only act on desire like animals. The mind must always prevail.”

The film shows how his worldview had been influenced, through the constant media coverage of vengeful violence between Israelis and Palestinians, his interpretations of religious texts out of context, hate-filled speeches of political leaders, as well as rabbis who seem to condone his thinking. 

Zilberman’s film is mostly riveting with shocking archival footage weaved in for impact. Even if you are clueless about the Middle East’s complicated history, Incitement does just enough to entice you to want to explore further. 

And despite the ending being a foregone conclusion, Zilberman manages to squeeze out as much suspense as he possibly can with his material, especially in the final twenty minutes, which comes close to what Costa-Gavras might have achieved in his prime.  

Grade: B+


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