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Film Review: Incitement
by Rose Finlay

Israel 2019
Directed by Yaron Zilberman

On November 4th, 1995, the Israeli Prime Minister Yitshak Rabin was assassinated by an extremist who was against his work to bring peace to the Israelis and Palestinians. Incitement is a psychological thriller which follows Rabin’s assassin in the months leading up to the attack examining the various religious and political events which led to his violent decision.

For a psychological thriller there isn’t much thrilling about sitting through two hours of a far-right extremist slowly becoming more extreme. The assassin, Yigal Amir (Yehuda Nahari Halevi), comes from a rather normal home. His mother coddles him and shares a few of his unsavory views, his father is a religious philosopher and a relative moderate, and he studies law at University. Fundamentally, there is nothing about what we see of his family which explains his tendency towards extremism. Even as the film slowly shows his growing obsession with news reports of Palestinian violence (and the reprisals which follow) and his admiration of the teachings of some extremist Rabbis, it still never delves deep enough into Amir’s psyche to give any real insight into his thoughts. That is the eternal problem with films which try to examine murderers and extremists, their thoughts are often nonsensical, and it is difficult to bring any sort of emotional or intellectual insight beyond the most superficial. This is certainly the case with Incitement which honestly become rather a boring slog the longer it continues, until eventually the audience is just waiting impatiently for the assassination just so that the film will finally be over… which I don’t think was the intention of the filmmakers or a particularly pleasant result in a film which is portraying a great national tragedy for Israel.

There are many different ways in which art can help people examine difficult historical events in order for audiences to gain more insight politically or emotionally. However, Incitement’s fails to provide much context either way serving to only bring more attention to the assassin rather than bringing the audience to a further understanding of the complicated political and social situation in Israel which leads to such radicalization. Incitement does little to convince that it is not merely about profiting off of tragedy and the obsession people have with trying to find reason in the actions of the unreasonable. The result is a film which feels oddly in bad taste while also failing to bring enlightenment or hope.