Franco-Canadian drama is a deserving award-winner
This commendable and impressive Franco-Canadian drama arrives fresh from scooping of seven Genies (Canada’s Oscars). Set in the Middle East and dramatising an endless cycle of violence and retribution, it’s an unashamedly didactic piece of filmmaking that’s heavyweight enough to justify its numerous accolades.
Adapted and directed by French Canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve (Maelström, Polytechnique), Incendies is based on Lebanon-born, Canada-resident dramatist Wajdi Mouawad’s play, the title of which translates as ‘Scorched’, signifying a land destroyed by conflict. Opening in modern-day Montreal, it begins with brother-sister twins Jeanne (Melissa Desormeaux-Poulin) and Simon (Maxim Gaudette) being read their recently deceased mother’s will and being given a pair of sealed letters written by the woman who escaped from the war-torn Middle East (the fictional Fuad, a thinly-veiled Lebanon) to bring her children up in North America. One letter informs Jeanne and Simon that their father didn’t die the heroic death they were told he did, the other tells the twins they have a long-lost brother in Fuad who they are to find as their mother’s dying wish.
What follows unfolds as a slow-burning detective story that flips between Jeanne and Simon’s efforts to find their sibling, who’s identifiable only by three black dots tattooed on one of his feet, and flashbacks to their mother’s involvement in the civil war that destroyed her country. Villeneuve dispenses with large chunks of dialogue from the, apparently, very talky play and replaces them with a series of striking and very cinematic images. The result is a film with a powerful anti-war message that shows rather than tells and end sup being all the more vivid for that.
Selected release from Fri 24 Jun.