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A mother's last wishes send twins Jeanne and Simon on a journey to Middle East in search of their tangled roots. Adapted from Wajdi Mouawad's acclaimed play, Incendies tells the powerful and moving tale of two young adults' voyage to the core of deep-rooted hatred, never-ending wars and enduring love.
Lorsque le notaire Lebel fait à Jeanne et Simon Marwan la lecture du testament de leur mère Nawal, les jumeaux sont sidérés de se voir remettre deux enveloppes, l'une destinée à un père qu'ils croyaient mort et l'autre à un frère dont ils ignoraient l'existence. Jeanne voit dans cet énigmatique legs la clé du silence de Nawal, enfermée ces dernières années dans un mutisme obstiné depuis son lit d'hôpital. Elle décide immédiatement de partir au Moyen-Orient exhumer le passé de cette famille dont elle ne sait presque rien...
This hauntingly enigmatic Canadian film and 2010 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nominee unfolds backward and forward in time as a riveting, intricate mystery story. Clues are doled out gradually and often without the benefit of reason until shocking answers are unearthed in the final minutes. Set primarily in an unnamed Middle East country that is probably Lebanon, events are told in flashbacks and present-day scenes that run together without comment or overt transitions, employing a formal structure that requires us to pay constant attention to the shifts in perspective. It's a challenging task, but one that becomes enormously engrossing as the narrative weaves around itself against the backdrop of a bloody civil war and the equally damaging emotional battle of a family that is bound to a past ruled by equal parts devotion and horror. The primary characters are Nawal Marwan and her twin children Jeanne and Simon. A framing device set in Montreal where the grown twins hear a reading of their recently deceased mother's will sets up a quest that must be resolved before her body can be put to rest. They are each given sealed letters by the avuncular notary who was both their mother's employer and family friend (he also becomes pretty important to the extended plot, as do a number of other seemingly minor characters). As her last request, the mother has instructed Jeanne to deliver one letter to their father and Simon to deliver the other to their brother. Even though the twins believed their unknown father to be long dead and were unaware of the existence of a brother, Nawal's will assures them that both men are very much alive. With nothing more than the family name and a vague history of Nawal's early life in the strife-torn country where fighting between Christians and Muslims wrought a years-long bloodbath, both children get a crack at solving the mystery. The trails they follow each in their own turn are intercut with episodes from the young Nawal's journey of heartbreak, tension, and terror decades earlier. The children uncover incremental details in the same resolutely objective fashion that director Denis Villeneuve reels out others through the experiences of Nawal as she lived through her own ordeal. The script by Villeneuve was based on a play by Wajdi Mouawad, and there is a deeply resonant literary quality to the narrative that gives what might have otherwise seemed like an unlikely series of coincidences a profound sense of plausibility. An ultimate and entirely legitimate sense of destiny is revealed to all the characters that pass through the story, even in the most tangential way. The truths revealed by the surprise ending are truly devastating and completely unexpected, especially to those for whom the reality they thought they knew has been upended in ways that are unimaginable. --Ted Fry --This text refers to the Blu-ray edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Nawal Marwan has died and she has left instructions for her twin children, Jeanne and Simon. Jeanne is to find their father; Simon is to find their brother. Their father, they thought, was already dead, and the existence of a brother was heretofore unknown to them. Simon, angry and resentful, dismisses his mother's dying but confounding wishes. Jeanne, for her part, embarks on a quest to find these mysterious relatives of which she had no knowledge, headed for the country of her mother's birth, the fictional Fouad.
Here, the narrative alternates between Jeanne's present-day investigation and Nawal's own harrowing story. It is this story upon which Incendies is built and it is this story that draws us, the audience, in--just as it will forever remain indistinct to Nawal's children. Having narrowly escaped an honour killing for having become pregnant out of wedlock, Nawal alternates between the two sides of a civil war, eventually ending up in prison where she is raped and tortured but gains an almost legendary status as The Woman Who Sings.
The film's pace is slow, methodical, with sudden bursts of gut-wrenching action. The violence, however, is there only because the story demands it, not to shock or cause undue and unnecessary discomfort (discomfort that is too often justified by the makers of art-house films with claims of "telling the truth"). The violence is brutal, but the victims are treated with dignity. For the most part, the brutality is allowed to exist in the viewer's imagination.Read more ›
Jeanne is more enthused than her sibling and sets off with minimal information to find her Pops. Simon is disgruntled with the whole thing and stays at home sulking - that is probably the Gallic influence. Jeanne goes to an unnamed country that is more than likely the Lebanon, where she starts her search for the past. The real past is told in episodic flashbacks, and we start to see what a harrowing and extraordinary life that Narwal has lived. We are taken on a tour of Daresh and Deressa during the civil war. We see religious intolerance, war atrocities and honour killings. Whilst this is all done very tastefully, it has the feel of being much more gritty than it actually is and that has to be a testament to the brilliant direction of Denis Villeneuve (who also adapted this from the stage play).
This is also beautifully shot and has a powerful soundtrack that features Radiohead. Whilst not a short film with a run time of 130 minutes, this did not feel like a chore at all, in fact it seemed to fly by. There are some that will not be satisfied with the ending, but c'est la vie. In French, with some Arabic and English, all well translated, albeit translitterally, this is a film for anyone interested in World cinema.Read more ›
The story is superb, rivetting and surprising, mostly because of the original play it is based on (by Wadji Mouawad). But it's the authenticity of the location, and the local actors and extras, that really makes this film stand out, and the making-of shows exactly where that authenticity comes from. Many of those who appear in it are still living under the spell of hatred which motivates the characters in the fictional story. Of course it takes a great director like Villeneuve to transform this kind of atmosphere into a work of art like this film, but hearing the unvarnished testimony of those who live in this war-torn region is a real bonus. This is a great DVD in both respects.
Most recent customer reviews
The last minutes of this Hauntingly enigmatic movie is a killer for me, the outcome you would not believe,
if you understand the last words of Simon, two plus two makes two,... Read more
This movie is about love, courage and forgiveness. Although the outcome for the main protagonist is tragic, it is an excellent movie treating several délicate subjects- the... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Corinne Allal
A very good film by Denis Villeneuve who directed my favourite film of 2013; Prisoners.Published 1 month ago by r_duke
For those wondering if this blu-ray version (B005CU5O86) contains an option for english subtitles - it does!Published 6 months ago by Matos