As I write this post, I am still digesting this amazing film for the beauty, suspense and intensity in its story. In fact I'm still haunted. Movies like this inspired me to study film in the first place and I can't remember a recent film that has made such an emotional impact. The film isn't so much about the Middle East and its political and religious radicalism-as it is a film on family, love and reconciliation.
"The past is never dead. It's not even past," William Faulkner once said. Or as Paul Thomas Anderson put it in his film, Magnolia, "We may be through with the past, but the past ain't through with us."
When notary Lebel (Rémy Girard) sits down with Jeanne and Simon Marwan (Mélissa Désormeaux Poulin, Maxim Gaudette) to read them their mother Nawal’s will (Lubna Azabal), the twins are stunned to receive a pair of envelopes – one for the father they thought was dead and another for a brother they didn’t know existed. In this enigmatic inheritance, Jeanne sees the key to Nawal’s retreat into unexplained silence during the final weeks of her life. She immediately decides to go to the Middle East to dig into a family history of which she knows next to nothing. Simon is unmoved by their mother’s posthumous mind games. However, the love he has for his sister is strong, and he soon joins her in combing their ancestral homeland in search of a Nawal who is very different from the mother they knew. With Lebel’s help, the twins piece together the story of the woman who brought them into the world, discovering a tragic fate as well as the courage of an exceptional woman.
The film was shot in Jordan—and although the country isn't named it is clearly Lebanon and the Christian militia's massacre of Palestinian refugees in 1982. The film opens with a powerful flashback to Radiohead's “You And Whose Army?” which perfectly sets the tone musically. An adaptation of Lebanese born Wajdi Mouawad’s hit play, INCENDIESis a deeply moving story that brings the extremism and violence of today’s world to a starkly personal level, delivering a powerful and poetic testament to the uncanny power of the will to survive.
ACADEMY AWARD NOMINEE: Best Foreign Language Film OFFICIAL SELECTION: Sundance Film Festival OFFICIAL SELECTION: Toronto International Film Festival OFFICIAL SELECTION: Telluride Film Festival OFFICIAL SELECTION: Venice Film Festival