Friday, May 20, 2011


French Canadian writer/director Denis Villeneuve brings Wajdi Mouawad’s dark play Incendies to the screen with the intensity the story deserves. Mouawad is Lebanese but this fable is set in a fictional Middle Eastern country with the intention of divorcing it from a specific political conflict or participants.

The message is about ending anger thorough personal rather than the public reconciliation such as that seen in South Africa. The scale of the violent horrors is immense: rape and torture, cold-blooded execution of ‘innocents’, adult and children.

The cast is first class. Lubna Azabal gives a haunting portrayal as Nawal Marwan, a Christian whose youthful romance sparks this dark mystery.

Her children Jeanne and Simon Marwan (Mélissa Désormeaux Poulin, Maxim Gaudette) are sent on a quest to discover their father and brother with the assistance of notary Lebel (Rémy Girard). The journey to discover their brother Nihad (Abdelghafour Elaaziz) is interspersed with flashbacks to Nawal’s youth.

The surprises and twists in the plot are a little too predictable at times and sometimes beyond belief as well. We have to take it as allegory if the ‘message’ is not to be lost.

A powerful, disturbing film that ends on a note of hope. Not for the faint hearted.

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