MFR Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
This French-Canadian production unravels slowly and carefully. Following the death of their mother, two twins (Lubna Azabal and Maxim Gaudette) set out to fulfill their mother’s dying wish by venturing into the Middle East in order to find a brother they never knew they had and to help them understand and come to terms with their mysterious roots. Incendies looks at war; deep rooted in both a region and the mother, whose past is slowly dissentangled.
The story is told by constantly moving back and forwards in time, which works really well as the family story unfolds like a puzzle. It’s shot beautifully. Director Denis Villeneuve has a real eye for cinematography and the acting is constantly believable and heart-aching.The themes of middle east conflict are not overdone and instead echo nicely with the tone of the film.
The narrative certainly takes time to get going but once it draws you in, Incendies is a film that leaves a chill as well as a sense of relief and finality. It’s disturbing as well as poignant and despite a slow pace, it’s cinematic in every sense. It’s difficult to believe Incendies isn’t a real contender for Best Foreign Picture at the Oscars, and it would be thoroughly deserved.
Incendies is out now in the UK. Running time: 130 mins. Certificate 15 (UK).
Review by David Rank