Incendies

Incendies

DVD - 2011 | French
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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.

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j
jonnybroom
Oct 02, 2017

A movie to engage your empathy and raise your awareness of another part of the world. One doesn't side with Christian or Palestinian sides in this drama; it's a human puzzle, nearly incomprehensible to the Canadian children in the story, but searing as a blow-torch to anyone who views it. And the surprise ending caught me completely off-guard.

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Ilantha
Nov 20, 2016

Amazing movie!!! I highly recommend it. Heartbreaking, with the atrocities and traumas of war, but satisfying and touching none the less. This story has stuck with me since I watched it. BTW the copy I had had zero problems with subtitles.

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IV27HUjg
Aug 05, 2016

2 dics poorly marked IMO, difficult to get the subtitles to kick in - be patient, keeping trying.

I thought this film was impressive & further cements my belief that 'religion' will be the planet's destruction. In the name of 'religion' we love, hate, kill every living thing.

The cover uses words like, powerful, puzzle, thriller mystery, horror of war, twisting - twisted for sure. For me, parts were slow to develop & I'm glad I stayed with it to the end. "One plus one is two."

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iwasthewalrus
Sep 02, 2015

Following the death of their mother, Simon and Jeanne are gathered for the reading of her last will and testament. It’s there they discover some shocking truths about their mother’s past. Her final wish is for her two children to return to her birthplace and find their father and their long lost brother to deliver a mysterious enveloped letter to each. Jeanne feels inclined to carry out her deceased mother’s request, whereas Simon is rendered bitter and reluctant out of grief. Alone, Jeanne begins to investigate her mother’s past as the film shifts back and forth from the present to flashbacks, slowly unravelling the disturbing secrets her mother left unspoken.

Incendies is a harrowing film, filled with powerful scenes that unflinchingly depict the horrors of war and hatred. A certain scene set on a bus feels almost like a sequence from Schindler’s List , except filmed with the restraint Spielberg can’t understand or handle. Denis Villeneuve is a talented filmmaker, and perhaps the most prominent evidence of this is during the aforementioned bus scene. The passengers have just been fired out by a swarm of machine guns, and the few survivors lie on the ground in silence, looking at the bodies that surround them. Everything is communicated non-verbally, but Villeneuve can tell so much using his actors’ wordless shock.

The ending of the film relies on a major twist which is absolutely unpredictable and undeniably surprising. But just as many of the previous scenes do, the twist relies heavily on a very unlikely coincidence and numerous implausibilities. The ending is completely contrived to the point of absurdity, but personally, it took some time for that fact to settle. When it was first revealed, I was taken aback and astounded. But then I considered it and realized just how poorly written it was. This is a reminder of a common flaw in movies; just because a plot twist is unexpected, by no means makes it good. If it can’t be both believable and effective, it’s useless.

At 130 minutes, the film occasionally feels overlong, but has enough brilliant scenes to re-tighten its grip on the viewer whenever it shifts into slight tedium. A curious device Villeneuve uses, which in the very least makes Incendies more interesting, is the Radiohead motif. A couple tracks from the album “Amnesiac” are played throughout. The choice of music seems somewhat strange at first. The film has a highly realistic feel to it, whereas Radiohead has an almost otherworldly tone. But it ends up giving Incendies a visceral feel, something which it lacked during the less intriguing moments.

It’s a film that thrives on marvelous performance, some very striking and memorable images, and Villeneuve’s ability to direct emotional passages. Yet other aspects are unforgivable. The general sense of realism and truth is marred by an ending with all the logic and likelihood of an M. Night Shyamalan twist.

a5a22406 Feb 28, 2015

What an excellent Canadian (Quebec) movie. Filmed in both Montreal and the Kingdom of Jordan, this is a first-class show.
Be sure to watch the Extra Features, as the crew talks to kids and adults who were movie-extras and some of the stories they tell of being refugees from Iraq.

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Nursebob
Dec 30, 2014

After her death Nawal Marwan’s fraternal twins, Simon and Jeanne, come together for the reading of her Will. There is the expected 50/50 split of earthly possessions and bank accounts but then things take a strange turn. Nawal leaves express instructions that her body is to be buried in shame; nude, without a casket, and facing downwards, nor is she to have a gravestone marking the site until “an old promise is kept”. In addition, according to their mother’s further wishes Simon and Jeanne are to deliver two letters; one to their father whom they believed dead, and one to a brother they never knew they had. With only a few documents and a grainy photograph as clues Jeanne heads to the Middle East country (Lebanon, deliberately unnamed) where her mother lived before immigrating to Montreal. Simon, meanwhile, stubbornly refuses to take part in what he believes to be a wild goose chase---or is he more afraid than he’s willing to admit? As Jeanne, and later a reluctant Simon, get closer to a truth more horrible than they can imagine a series of flashbacks involving their mother fills in the narrative blanks setting the audience up for a most distressing final revelation. I must admit to being initially incensed by the film’s ending for it came across as sensationalistic and needlessly exaggerated, but after several deep breaths and a long talk with my friend Nurit I came to appreciate it for the darkly operatic metaphor it was clearly meant to be. Making maximum use of the harsh lighting and stark spaces of his desert locations Denis Villeneuve tackles issues of identity, fanaticism and hatred as we see a country literally feeding on itself in order to sustain its perpetual hunger for war. As tightly edited and relentlessly paced as it is, Incendies’ overall tone struck me as a bit inconsistent however, going from sibling squabbles to warfare atrocities to a surreal poolside encounter that was probably more effective in the initial stage production. Furthermore a soundtrack of anglo ballads seemed out of place when the impassioned strains of a Middle Eastern orchestra would have complemented the story’s decidedly theatrical core far more effectively. Minor criticisms aside, the film does conclude with a softly devastating coda in which letters are read and old wounds are laid bare to the sun, if not exactly healed.

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cdeclercq
Aug 05, 2014

This film is a very good example of what war does to people. It's cruel, horrible and heartbreaking and if you add intolerance and hatred of other religions or cultures to the mix, you find yourself in the most inhuman living condition there is.
This movie shows it all, no holds barred; this is what it's like...

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0cho
Feb 26, 2014

It’s so nice to see a Canadian movie do so well on the international movie scene. However, why is that Canadian movies have to be so messed up? All I can say is stay away from this movie. This movie is neither artistic or intelligent. The movie does start out very interesting but spirals downward rapidly into the toilet. So sad these days that we need to keep pushing the envelope and increase the shock value in every movie we watch. Don’t bother with this movie.

j
jjd66
Jan 23, 2014

@ Icon SusannahElf
The copy I had didn't have English subtitles which is odd. Some copies may be different.

s
SusannahElf
Jan 23, 2014

Okay, is it just me, or have other people had problems getting the English subtitles to show? I tried at least 10 times, because I really want to see this film, especially having been hooked by the extended non-verbal sequence at the beginning. I've thought about muddling through the French parts, but I'm pretty sure I couldn't get the Arabic dialogue!

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Nutty
Jun 17, 2013

Nutty thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

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