The fact-based drama INCITEMENT, from Greenwich Entertainment and co-written and directed by Yaron Zilberman (the wonderful Phillip Seymour Hoffman starrer A Late Quartet) follows young cold-blooded Israeli assassin Yigal Amir (a chilling Yehuda Nahari Halevi, who even resembles the real Amir) down the dark hole of extremism to explore motivations for the tragic act.
Amir was a law student and Orthodox Jew at the time the Oslo Accords were emerging as a big step toward solving Israeli-Palestinian hostilities. The film further investigates his evolution from devotee of Talmudic/ancient Jewish law and pro-Israeli political activism into the the hot-headed fanatical anti-peace, self-appointed operative who murdered the tireless pro-peace Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin at a large 1995 Tel Aviv peace rally. No superficial bio-pic, this smart, thrilling, even-handed study conveys clues to what underlay Amir's deep hatred and twisted sociopathy. (Initial release: NYC on January 31st, and February 7th in Los Angeles; additional cities follow.)
Halevi delivers a remarkable turn as Amir but Zilberman, with such focused attention to detail and authenticity in all corners, extracts fine performances from all his supporting and bit players. Few films bring to mind such seamless and helpful integration of archival material into the body of the narrative. Even production design, cinematography, music perfectly hit the mark.
Without hammering home any lessons or messages, the film deftly leaves clues to Amir's sociopathy that will resonate for today, including his comfort with arms, feelings of alienation and inferiority as a Yemenite Jew. He's also a guy unlucky with the ladies and blinded/possessed by religious orthodoxy, etc.
The film has political relevance for today. American viewers exhausted by the current state of affairs and fearful of a rising conservative tide will be reminded that Israel's right wing Prime Minister and Trump/Kushner pal Benjamin Netanyahu was, when the assassination took place, also vehemently anti-Rabin and anti-peace (especially as conditions required Israel returning land shamefully expropriated from the native Palestinians). In a cruel irony conveyed in the film, the post-assassination elections brought about by Rabin's demise gave Netanyahu his first win as Prime Minister. And how poignant to be reminded that undying liberal vs. conservative tensions thrive no matter the time or place.
The filmmakers might have assumed some targeted American audiences know more than they do. Some viewers may feel the film goes a little too granular into Jewish practice and teachings. Also elusive to some might be tensions within the country's own Jewish community beyond those of the liberals and ultra-orthodox that involve divisions depicted here between Ashkenazi/settler/diaspora Jews and Mizrahim/Middle Eastern factions.