Incendies: You have read much about my view of the importance of endings during the past six months.
Too many movies have finales which just seem away and leave a sense of dissatisfaction. Some, as in the case of Source Code, can undo two hours of great work in two ghastly minutes. This film, meanwhile, must have the best conclusion to any film this year. Mrs W had seen this screener before I got around to it and was raving about it.
After an hour of watching it, I turned to her and said it was slow and I couldn’t see where it was going. “Stick with it,” she told me. “It will be worth it.”
Boy, she was right.
Denis Villeneuve‘s movie certainly has a complex opening. Her twins are called to her solicitor’s office and read precise instructions about her burial. They are also given a letter which they must present to a father they thought was dead and a brother they never knew they had. Her son Simon (Maxim Gaudette) wants nothing to do with such a saga but daughter Jeanne (Melissa Desormeaux-Poulin) wants to see our her mother’s wishes. Doing so, takes her on a trip to the Lebanon her mother’s homeland.
The film tells its story from two angles: Jeanne’s discovery is amplified by flashbacks to her mother’s life. Lubna Azabal plays Nawal Narwan, a woman who suffered in a way which was completely unknown to her twins.
One of the confusions of the early part of the movie is that because Desormeaux-Poulin and Azabal are so alike, it is not always easy to recognise when the action has moved from one to the other. Also, without a background knowledge of the various religious factions in the Lebanon, the story is sometimes tricky to follow. Nevertheless, the scenes of brutality certainly resonate. Once all of the strings are pulled taught, however, what is left will stay in the memory for some time.
Villeneuve’s ambition has been rewarded with great praise – Incendies was Oscar-nominated. It was considered Canada’s best film of 2010.
I really want to see it again because I think I was spending too much time in its early stages trying to work out what was going on. However, its ending means it is worth the 8/10 which Mrs W demanded I give it.
Check out: everyfilmin2011.blogspot.com
Running time: 130 minutes
Released: June 24th 2011
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Producers: Luc Déry and Kim McCraw
Screenplay: Denis Villeneuve (based on the play by Wajdi Mouawad)
Music: Grégoire Hetzel
Nawal Marwan: Lubna Azabal
Jeanne Marwan: Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin
Simon Marwan: Maxim Gaudette
Notary Jean Lebel: Rémy Girard