Posted by: popcouver | March 20, 2011

Incendies Review

For the first time in my movie-going obsession, I watched a film in a theatre that was entirely empty besides myself and Cayley, my date. A note to you, my dear readers, that this is NOT a testament to the worth of this film. I think it was just a case of the Wednesday night movie slump.

Also, I really appreciated the fact that we had the theatre to ourselves because the film was slightly confusing to two 20-somethings who don’t have a thorough history of the Middle Eastern conflict, and the solitary viewing allowed us to discuss and synthesize the storyline. However, we walked out of that empty theatre with a complete feeling of awe and sadness for the fates of the characters.

The film begins with the death of Canadian twins Jeanne and Simon’s mother, Nawal. Nawal’s employer and lawyer, Jean Lebel, explains to the siblings that their mother has left them 2 envelopes, one to be delivered to their father and one to be delivered to their brother, despite the fact that the twins believed their father to be dead and have no knowledge of another sibling. This mission sends Jeanne to Palestine in a solo attempt to uncover the secrets of her mother’s tumultuous past, for Simon refuses to be involved in the journey. Through graphic flashbacks of Nawal’s own experiences in the war-torn country and Jeanne’s emotional present-day efforts to uncover her family’s history, Director/Co-Writer Dennis Villeneuve presents a story of violence, pain, death, sorrow, loss, and abuse that changes the way the viewer thinks about family and truth.

It is a testament to the screenwriting and directing of this film that a Canadian who speaks neither French nor Arabic (and was therefore left to experience the film through sound and subtitles) was still able to internalize the emotional struggle of the characters on the screen. As Jeanne begins to discover her mother’s past, Simon and Jean join her efforts and assist in uncovering crucial pieces of the puzzle.

The conclusion of this film is shocking, heartbreaking, and tragically ironic. So much so, in fact, that I refuse to discuss it in case any Popcouverites see the film. I would strongly recommend it for an experience of history and emotional investment in one’s country. Though a stunningly beautiful film, it is violent and graphic, so be sure to be mentally prepared for the tragedies that are immortalized in this film about the religious wars in the Middle East.

Incendies is playing at Fifth Ave and Tinseltown.


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