By Lynn Venhaus
Based on true events, writer-director Yaron Zilberman chronicles the disturbing descent of a promising law student into a delusional ultranationalist obsessed with murdering his country’s leader, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. It’s an unnerving look through the eyes of a murderer who silenced a powerful voice for peace.
After the 1993 Oslo accords, it looked like peace was at hand between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
But Yigar Amir, an Orthodox Jew, transformed from a hot-headed political activist into a delusional extremist who assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Itzhak Rabin on Nov. 4, 1995.
Zilberman methodically shows how a person can be radicalized as he identifies with fanatic groups about the decades-old violence in the Middle East. Zilberman weaves archival footage into the story, giving it the feel of a docudrama.
The movie, Israel’s submission for an Academy Award International Feature nomination, won the Israeli award for best film. Both Yehuda Nahari, as Yigar Amir, and Amitay Yaish Ben Ousilio, as Yigar’s father Schlomo, were nominated but did not win.
Zilberman’s last film, “A Late Quartet,” a drama about a string quartet with dysfunctional lives starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walker and Catherine Keener, came out in 2012.
He co-wrote this engrossing, well-researched script with Ron Leshem and Yair Hizmi, and they get inside the psychological mindset of the assassin and the personal turmoil affecting his judgment.
Nahari gives as srong performance as Amir, showing how his anger fuels his delusions, as does his girlfriend leaving him as he becomes more isolated. He recruits fighters and arms them to kill Palestinians. He thinks that their territory is God-given and he can bring salvation to his people. He discovers an ancient rule, The Law of the Pursuer, and insists it gives him the right to murder Rabin.
The result is a chilling portrait into the mind of an assassin and a look at how fragile democracy can be.
“Incitement” is directed by Yaron Zilberman and stars Yehuda Nahari Halevi, Amitay Yaish Ben Ousilio, Anat Ravnizky. It is not rated, but there are scenes of graphic violence. The film is 2 hours, 3 minutes, and is in Hebrew, with subtitles. Lynn’s Grade: B+
This review also appeared in the Feb. 21 Times newspapers — Webster-Kirkwood Times, South County Times and West End Word. Timesnewspapers.com
Lynn Venhaus has had a continuous byline in St. Louis metro region publications since 1978. She is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic, currently reviews films for Webster-Kirkwood Times and KTRS Radio, covers entertainment for PopLifeSTL.com and co-hosts podcast PopLifeSTL.com…Presents, and writes features and news for Belleville News-Democrat and contributes to other publications. She is a member of CCA, AWFJ and St. Louis Film Critics Association. She is a founding member of the St. Louis Theater Circle.