I’m a sucker for well-honed films like Incitement (Greenwich, 4.20), a subdued but fascinating Israeli-made thriller about what Yigal Amir, the Israeli law student who murdered Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on 11.4.95, went through in the year leading up to the slaying.

Kudos to director-writer Yaron Zilberman, co-writer Ron Leshem and an altogether excellent Israeli cast (Yehuda Nahari Halevi, Amitai Yaish, Anat Ravnitzki, Yoav Levi) on a job well done.

Unfolding in a fashion vaguely similar to Fred Zinneman‘s Day Of The Jackal (about the failed assassination of Charles De Gaulle) and Mark Robson‘s Nine Hours to Rama (a fictionalized account of the murder of Mahatma Ghandi), Incitement is one of those “here’s how and why a misguided fanatic carried out an infamous deed” flicks.

An exacting, confident, carefully measured narrative.

We obviously know going in that Amir will succeed in murdering Rabin over the divisive Oslo Peace Accord. And yet the film holds our attention while laying on the suspense. The pleasure is all in the assembling.

Incitement boils down to a character study of Amir — devout, soft-spoken, fiercely intelligent — and the influences that led to his carrying out the killing. The film condemns his enablers, principally the fanatical, ultra-nativist Israeli zealots (soldiers, rabbis, political activists) who agree that Rabin has betrayed Israel by trying to “give peace a chance” via the Oslo pact.

An aspect that vaguely annoyed me was Amir’s intense passion for Nava (Daniella Kertesz), a beautiful fellow student who admires and cares for him but feels increasingly skittish about his hardcore rightwing views. Her parents are also skeptical and disapproving.

Amir wants to marry Nava, but also seems increasingly hellbent on murdering Rabin from an early stage in the film. So what’s the point, I was wondering, of getting seriously involved with anyone? Yigal eventually loses Nava’s allegiance, which seems to nail his fate down all the more. If Nava had agreed to marry him he might have decided against murdering Rabin, but, as noted, Amir seems determined early on.

Incitement tasted brief theatrical exposure earlier this year. The big North American debut happened in Toronto last September.