To encounter a film of heart-wrenching tragedy, mythic proportions and sweeping visual majesty is rare, but such are the riches of Denis Villeneuve’s Incendies. After last year’s multiple Genie Award-winning Polytechnique, Villeneuve continues his acute examination of women in devastating situations facing complex and harrowing circumstances.
At the reading of their mother Nawal’s will, twin siblings Simon (Maxim Gaudette) and Jeanne (Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin) learn for the first time that they have a brother, and that their father, whom they thought was dead, is in fact alive. Among their mother’s various unsettling requests is her final wish that the twins find both brother and father and deliver to them certain sealed letters. Nawal (Lubna Azabal) was a mystery to her children and their relationship is a difficult one. Simon is angry and resistant, but Jeanne feels compelled to respect her mother’s requests.
As a young woman, Nawal fell pregnant out of wedlock in her Middle-Eastern homeland. After narrowly escaping an honour killing, she was forced to give up her baby boy, vowing one day to find him. Shifting back and forth in time, Incendies follows two parallel journeys, expertly interwoven: the twins’ journey to find their brother and father in their mother’s homeland, and Nawal’s journey to find her son. Both journeys shine a disturbing light on Nawal’s past and culminate in a shocking final revelation.
Villeneuve masterfully adapts the acclaimed play by Wajdi Mouawad, while André Turpin’s arresting cinematography captures the arid landscape of the Middle-East, seamlessly shifting between shadowy corners and stark, bright daylight. Azabal is riveting as Nawal, while Désormeaux-Poulin and Gaudette deliver equally strong performances as the twins. Moving, visceral and epic, Incendies shows Villeneuve reaching ever greater heights as he probes characters that must face obstacles with extraordinary resilience and love. –TIFF
Denis Villeneuve (born October 3, 1967 in Gentilly, Quebec) is a Quebecois film director and writer. He is a two-time winner of the Genie Award for Best Director, for Maelström in 2001 and Polytechnique in 2010.
Strong showing for Margaret, Hugo and Moneyball.
Also: New essays up at the Chiseler; and there’s a new book out, Gary Cooper: Enduring Style.
"Denis Villeneuve's Incendies — an operatic saga of intergenerational woe — is the cinematic equivalent of a Harlem Globetrotters
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Blogging from Telluride for TCM, morlockjeff found that among the "most powerful" of the films he caught was Incendies, "directed by Canadian
Incendies est un drame familial fort, qui monte en crescendo grâce à sa construction temporelle plutôt habile et qui laisse peu de temps au répit. Ce film sur la quête des origines de deux jeunes québécois… read review
It takes a woman to paint love and compassion towards the surface of film reel, and at the same time it also takes a woman to set the image on fire with depression. One of the greatest film about woman… read review