Thursday, 8 September 2011

Incendies ★★★★★

"a triumph in modern storytelling"

French Canadian director Denis Villeneuve has created one of this year’s most powerful dramas by perfectly intertwining a tragedy of Greek proportions with a social commentary about the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.

Opening with a dreamlike pan across an unnamed Middle East country, noticeably accompanied by a powerfully emotive, yet seemingly indecorous Radiohead song (You and Whose Army?), Incendies makes you aware from the outset that what you’re about to embark on is an incredibly stylish and emotionally draining piece of cinema. The action is swiftly transferred to modern day Canada where we intrude upon the reading of Nawal Marwan’s (Lubna Azabal) will to her two siblings, twins by the names of Simon (Maxim Gaudette) and Jeanne (Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin). It becomes instantly apparent that the relationship this brother and sister had with their mother was complicated at best, but nowhere near as convoluted as the immensely irregular task they have inherited. Two envelopes are produced, one given to each twin. One is addressed to ‘the son’ and the other to ‘the father’. Up until this moment neither sibling had any idea they had another brother, and so starts a captivating exploration into the murky past of their recently departed mother and a enlightening journey through the annals of their family history. Each time a part of the puzzle is solved, a whole new revelation presents itself, before finally leading to an emotionally devastating conclusion that neither child could possibly have imagined.


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