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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Family mysteries, buried violence
Based on a play by Wajdi Mouawad, Incendies is a mystery and family history exposing the uncomfortable reality that our parents had a life before we were born, that we, as their children, can never truly know that life, and, as such, can never truly know our parents.

Nawal Marwan has died and she has left instructions for her twin children, Jeanne and Simon...
Published on Feb. 28 2011 by Andre Farant

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars great film, so-so dvd
I have to weigh in on this, as a few customers already have. In this day & age, for a film nominated for a globally recognized award, in an officially bilingual country, from a province that yearns for greater recognition of its amazing culture in the rest of that country.... Why oh whyyyyy did they decide to release a DVD with only French-language subtitles? I have...
Published on May 9 2011 by Aleksandar Stosich


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Family mysteries, buried violence, Feb. 28 2011
By 
Andre Farant (Ottawa, Ontario) - See all my reviews
Based on a play by Wajdi Mouawad, Incendies is a mystery and family history exposing the uncomfortable reality that our parents had a life before we were born, that we, as their children, can never truly know that life, and, as such, can never truly know our parents.

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. Tension is created through admirable restraint: A man stands, a small smile upon his lips, examining a frightened woman bound to a chair. She is aware of his intensions. We are aware of his intensions.

There are also moments of levity; a metal detector getting the biggest laughs.

The story does, at times, veer into the realm of the improbable, but this, like the violence, is not to shock or fit a pre-constructed narrative, but to make a point. Beyond the ever-presence of familial mysteries, Incendies deals with violence, not simply as a cycle, but as a web, spreading in often blind directions, sometimes turning upon itself, even as it continues to grow. To make this point, the filmmaker must take some liberties with credibility, but always operating truthfully within the fictional world he has created.

Incendies, written and directed by Denis Villeneuve, a man whose work will be familiar to most followers of Québec cinema, is an intense, stark film, well acted and beautifully photographed. Fouad, here, stands in for a civil war-era Lebanon and, in turn, Jordan is used to depict Villeneuve's imaginary land. The cinematographer, André Turpin, depicts Fouad as a land victimized by its own history, arid and nearly devoid of colour, even as it is rendered beautiful by its scars.

Incendies was nominated for the foreign-language Oscar. Though it will find more favour within the art-house community than it will at the box office, it should allow Villeneuve entry into a greater, more diverse international market.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Death is Never the End of the Story", Feb. 11 2012
By 
Tommy Dooley "Tom" (London, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 10 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Incendies (Bilingual) (DVD)
`Incendies' translates into English as `scorched' and is a good metaphor for the whole film. This is the story of Narwal Marwan (Lubna Azabal), who has left an unusual last will and testament. Said will is then read to her twin children by her former employer and attorney. In it they are both given a letter each to deliver, the daughter Jeanne, has one for the father and her brother Simon, has one for their brother. The problem is that up until this point they believed their father to be dead and this is the first they had heard of a brother.

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. It is also about the indominatabilty of the human spirit and the love bond a mother has for her child. Even if you do not like this film, you would be hard pressed not to be moved by it. I found it utterly absorbing and I hope you do too.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Devastatingly inspiring, Dec 21 2011
By 
Gary Fuhrman "gnox" (Manitoulin Island) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Incendies (Bilingual) (DVD)
This bilingual edition of Incendies was worth waiting for. Lubna Azabal is marvellous, but the rest of the acting in this film is remarkable. The English subtitles are well done, not only for the film itself but also for the lengthy and fascinating making-of documentary by Anais Barbeau-Lavalette. Most of Incendies was shot in Jordan, and the documentary ("Remembering the Ashes") gives the local extras and actors a chance to share their own feelings about the events portrayed in the film, and their memories of similar events in their own lives.

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.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incendies, Sept. 11 2012
Responding to the notes of other reviewers, At least in my copy, purchased in Toronto in 2011Incendies, the sub-titles are available, if you first choose the French version, instead of the English overdub. This is an excellent movie, with fine acting, strong direction and a haunting story. This is a very powerful and unusual film, not to be missed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incendies, Feb. 12 2014
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À partir d’une pièce de Wajdi Mouawad, Denis Villeneuve en a fait une adaptation époustouflante au cinéma.
Le film a été sélectionné dans la catégorie du meilleur film en langue étrangère en vue de la 83e cérémonie des Oscars. Il est considéré comme un des 10 meilleurs films de 2011 par le New York Times.

L’intrigue du film est basée sur une guerre de religion. Tous les coups sont permis incluant la torture. Un film qui nous tient en halène tout au long de la projection.

C’est un incontournable, à voir absolument.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A magnificent film., April 27 2011
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This film is very compelling. Thank goodness that I can read and write French however, as there was no option for English sub-tittles. The captions were in French! Very moving film, and very convincingly done.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incendies, the DVD, Nov. 5 2011
By 
Rutney (Santa Rosa, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Incendies (Bilingual) (DVD)
Incendies is the 45th film produced in Quebec that I have ordered in the past five years and is clearly one of the best. I am glad that it was finally available with English subtitles and for several reasons. I watched it the fist time with French subtitles and because of this and because of the Québec accent I missed a great deal of the plot and found everything somewhat confusing. Then I read a synopsis of the story that I found on line and watched it again, this time with English subtitles. At this point I clearly understood everything. What a dramatic finish, to say the least!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Complexities of Peace, Feb. 4 2012
By 
Ian Gordon Malcomson (Victoria, BC) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This recent film directed by the Quebec filmmaker Denis Villeneuve deals with the impact that modern warfare has on a particular family as seen through the eyes of the mother. As a human dramatization of some very real events, this movie spoke to me on a couple of planes. One, war has a very destructive ability to immediately tear people's lives apart. Though the film doesn't actually say so, there are strong hints that the war zone in the movie is Lebanon of the eighties when Israel occupied it in its campaign to defeat Hezbollah and solidify its northern borders. The main part of this harrowing tale consists of a mother's life as an unattached terrorist who is caught and brutally treated by the occupying forces. We are led to believe that this woman's murderous actions are in direct retaliation for what war has done to destroy her family. Her cause is personal and not political. During her time in gaol, she bears a child from being gang-raped by her gaolers. Two, the film really takes on special meaning when she eventually is released and allowed to immigrate to Montreal, Canada, to start a new life and raise her family. In her heart there is always that longing desire to be re-united with her child left behind in her homeland. It is her dying wish for her two Canadian children to go back and find that lost child that reflects both the anguish and love of her soul at it lowest point. Our attention is now turned to the consuming efforts of Janine and Simon as they search for their half-brother and father. Their journey is one that meets with all kinds of emotional and physical challenges as they move through a Lebanese society still scarred by memories of war and bound by male dominance. The end to their long and frustrating hunt for the truth comes when hope suddenly gives way to joy with a very interesting discovery in the most unlikely of places. The collateral damage of war suddenly is transformed into the embodiment of love, which proves that peace can outlive strife.
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4.0 out of 5 stars "Death is Never the End of the Story", Dec 22 2011
By 
Tommy Dooley "Tom" (London, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 10 REVIEWER)   
`Incendies' translates into English as `scorched' and is a good metaphor for the whole film. This is the story of Narwal Marwan (Lubna Azabal), who has left an unusual last will and testament. Said will is then read to her twin children by her former employer and attorney. In it they are both given a letter each to deliver, the daughter Jeanne, has one for the father and her brother Simon, has one for their brother. The problem is that up until this point they believed their father to be dead and this is the first they had heard of a brother.

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. It is also about the indominatabilty of the human spirit and the love bond a mother has for her child. Even if you do not like this film, you would be hard pressed not to be moved by it. I found it utterly absorbing and I hope you do too.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars great film, so-so dvd, May 9 2011
By 
Aleksandar Stosich "Biologist, Ethnographer, ... (Hamilton, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
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I have to weigh in on this, as a few customers already have. In this day & age, for a film nominated for a globally recognized award, in an officially bilingual country, from a province that yearns for greater recognition of its amazing culture in the rest of that country.... Why oh whyyyyy did they decide to release a DVD with only French-language subtitles? I have purchased DVD's in Europe with 12 or more language options - it's technologically simple and simply makes sense. I have no problem following a film in French, and the film itself blew me away, but I hope that a DVD with English-language subtitles becomes available soon. I may return my DVD... the first time I've ever done that.
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Incendies [Blu-ray] (Version française)
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