Saturday, September 25, 2010

Incendies (2010)

With a touch of fantasy in Denis Villeneuve's Incendies, one often wonders if the film realism. With that said, prepare yourself for this one. In fact, while Polytechnique was a warm-up, Incendies shows us a Denis Villeneuve who is at the peak of his shape.

Built in a non-linear way, the film introduces to Simon (Maxim Gaudette) and Jeanne (Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin) Marwal, who are twins. After their mother's death, Jean Lebel (Rémy Girard), a notary for whom the twins' mother worked, reads their mother's last wishes. Upon the reading of these, Jean give one envelope to each twin. Jeanne has to give this envelope to a father who apparently didn't die during the Lebanese Civil War and Simon, to a brother he and his sister have never heard of.

From this day on, Jeanne begins her personal investigation in an unidentified Middle Eastern country (read: Lebanon) in order to gather informations about who her mom really was and where her father is. While Simon loathes his mom and doesn't want to bring the envelope to the mysterious brother, he joins Jeanne in her trip because of his bond with her. Together, Simon and Jeanne will try to understand why their mom had remained silent on her dark past.

As a film in which the focus is mostly put on the mother, the film succeeds. As we progress through Simon's and Jeanne's investigation, we get to see how a civil war leaves its mark on the mother and how it led her to armour herself up. With its non-linear structure and its flash-backs, Incendies can be frustrating to watch at times. The first reason being that the film withholds a lot of information from viewers. Moreover, in the first half, the film doesn't really reveal that much about why Jeanne and Simon has to search for their father and their mysterious brother. However, investing oneself in this film is extremely rewarding. Despite a few far-fetched moments, the film's story is well built thanks to the few hints (about the mysterious brother) that left in the film with so much subtlety.

Furthermore, by introducing us to characters coming from ethnic minorities, the film also finds its way to speak to us. It is also a smart denunciation of the loopholes in the Canadian immigration system. Suppose that your neighbour tells you that he/she comes from a country torn by war, do we really know his true background? Will his/her past ever catch up with him?

Other than that, the film is definitely worth your time because of the cast's solid performance. As the mother, Belgian actress Lubna Azabal brilliantly canvassed the portrait of a woman who wears an armour of courage, but, in reality, hides her psychological scars. As for Maxim Gaudette and Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin, I was personally shocked to see two French Quebeckers hired to play Quebeckers of Lebanese heritage. Nevertheless, given that they have the right look to make us believe they're of Lebanese heritage, Gaudette and Désormeaux-Poulin are convincing as people who express curiosity, anger, shock and surprise when their character face the whole truth about their mom's identity.

Rating: 4.5/5

Origin:Canada (2010)
Length:131 minutes
Genre:Psychological drama
Screenplay:Denis Villeneuve
Director:Denis Villeneuve
Starring:Maxim Gaudette, Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin and Lubna Azabal

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