Toronto 2019: Incitement

Yigal Amir (Yehuda Nahari Halevi) in Incitement. Courtesy of TIFF.

Incitement may come off as a character study but the film will not change anybody’s mind when it comes to the tragic assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.

There’s no telling what could have happened had Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin not been assassinated by Yigal Amir (Yehuda Nahari Halevi).  It’s likely that we could have seen peace in the Middle East.  The reality is that this is such a big what if that we’ll never truly know.  What we do know is that one life was cut short by another on November 4, 1995.  It marked a sad day not only for Israel but for the Jewish people.

This film marks the first time that the events play out in a narrative feature.  It’s a psychological thriller when you get down to the core of the story.  How did this society push one man down this path?  There is no mistaking the fact that Yigal Amir was an ultra-nationalist.  Through the film, we get an idea that he believes writings in the Talmud give him the right to murder the PM.  Amir views the late PM as a rodef because of the Oslo Accords.  The Accords were controversial given that it meant Israel would be withdrawing from land.  One can understand as to why this didn’t sit well with some of the population.  As we see during the protests, people were unfortunately calling for Rabin’s head.

Amir goes as far as to seek counsel from various Orthodox rabbis.  What really drives him over the top is when religious extremist Baruch Goldstein committed the Cave of the Patriarchs massacre.  There were 29 people killed and another 125 wounded.

Director Yaron Zilberman wisely utilizes archival footage and isn’t afraid to blame the Israeli society.  Most notably, there are clips featuring Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.  It’s no secret that Netanyahu opposed the peace process.  Look at what’s happened over the following two-plus decades.  Israel is nowhere closer to peace.  This is certainly the most unfortunate consequence.  The society around Amir drove him down a path that is seemingly unfathomable for any Orthodox Jew. A turning point comes following the massacre in Hebron.  Moreover, Amir wants to start his own militia that will take over when the IDF abandons checkpoints under the Oslo Accords.  Basically, his actions are driving his own loved ones away from him.

Listen, this is a film that doesn’t seek to glorify Amir’s murderous acts.  Instead, Incitement seeks to examine why Amir acted in such terrible way.

DIRECTOR:  Yaron Zilberman
SCREENWRITERS:  Ron Leshem and Yaron Zilberman
CAST: Yehuda Nahari Halevi, Amitay Yaish Ben Ousilio, Anat Ravnizky, Yoav Levi, Dolev Ohana, Raanan Paz, Sivan Mast, Daniella Kertesz

Incitement held its world premiere during the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival in the Contemporary World Cinema Program. Grade: 3.5/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.