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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Incendie Great Foreign Language Film Review

A woman (Lubna Azabal) dies and in her will she tasks her twin daughter (Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin) and son (Maxim Gaudette) to deliver a letter to their father and brother they never met. To find them they first must learn about their mother's mysterious life before, during and after the Lebanese civil war during the 1970's.

As far as famous actors go, there are none. I've never seen a movie so beautifully acted by a cast I did not know by name. This is a heavy film with moments of desperation, determination and despair. Desperation, determination and despair can easily be over dramatized. The cast handles the weight of their roles so naturally that it not only underscores their talents but makes the characters so believable.

This film moves between the 1970's and present time but the messages of the film are timeless. In a novel way "Incedies" examines the cycles in life that will affect humankind forever. The never ending cycle of birth and death, pain and revenge, peace and war, hate and forgiveness all culminate into a reap-what-you-sow theme throughout this film. Pay careful attention to the consequences of family relationships, good and bad, when watching this film.

There are some moments in this film that I thought were a little too coincidental and presented too easily. The chance encounter between the eldest son and the mother not once but twice in the film seemed entirely implausible. With that in mind, these encounters shape one heck of a film and without these scenes much of the originality of this piece would be lost. Movies take play out the improbable and Incedies is,after all, a movie. A very good movie.

One minor scene didn't make sense. The brother and sister twins are told something shocking about their family. As a screenwriter/director, how should they react to such news? It seems the thing for a brother and sister to do in these situations to immediately put on a bathing suit, jump into a pool, swim a couple laps, then embrace. I might be nitpicking here but next time I get bad news I'm not throwing on the trunks and embracing my sister in a pool.


Actually, if you see this scene, let me know if you thought for a second that they were going to make out. After all, "Incendies" sounds a bit like the word "incestuous" (even though it doesn't mean that at all). 

I know, I know, I'm going to hell. Stranger things have happened in film though and that moment those siblings gazed at each other... God... next paragraph.....

I read Roger Ebert's review of this film and he asks an interesting question to those who saw the film. He asks in so many words if the mother's way of executing the will is too convoluted.

When you see the film you'll understand the question and I thought it was worth mentioning here. The mother is a focused and direct person by nature yet in her will she sets up the children to carry out a sort of morbid game of Clue. There's even an envelope(s) to open in the end. Why not just tell them directly? Personally, I was fine with how the will is executed. I can defend it here, but won't, as it will spoil the film.

Incendie was Academy Award nominated for Best Foreign Language Film. The screenplay (and direction) by Denis Villenueva is adapted from Wajdi Mouawad's play "Scortched"

Overall I loved the film.



130 Minutes

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