Double the Misery: Twins Dig Into Their Mother's Dark Past in Incendies


Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Sony Pictures Classics
Opens April 22

This latest blast of unwavering miserablism from Denis Villeneuve, Oscar-nominated and everything, reaches for something deeper than mere stroppy melodrama. Adapted from a 2003 play by Wajdi Mouawad, Incendies (“scorched”) obliquely chronicles the adult life of Nawal Marwan (Lubna Azabal), an Arab woman living in Canada whose death sends her two children to find the father they believed was dead and a half-brother they never knew existed. The siblings, twins Jeanne and Simon (Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin and Maxim Gaudette), travel to Nawal’s war-ravaged, unnamed Middle Eastern homeland, where their investigative legwork intertwines with flashbacks of their mother’s brutal past. This skewed chronology serves a narrative purpose, albeit an obfuscatory one, and cinematographer André Turpin’s lushly Kubrickian tracking shots are as noteworthy as Désormeaux-Poulin and Gaudette’s bond is understated. But while the symbolic duality threaded throughout the story (most notably in the twins’ fractious relationship) is apt and inspired, it ultimately amounts to scaffolding for an exploration of war’s viscious ironies that never quite develops. Instead, Nawal’s travails are more in the vein of a Latin American soap opera than Greek tragedy, and Jeanne and Simon’s climactic, genuinely god-awful discovery plays like artistic sleight-of-hand rather than the profoundly tautological revelation it aspires to be.

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"Arab woman"? You apparently didn't understand the movie, which was about sectarian hatred. She was a Christian whose relationship with a young Muslim man (who may or may not have been Arab) set the cycle of revenge and violence in motion.


this is probably the best best story line of my lifetime

George Mosley
George Mosley

Not sure what's tautological about it but experiencing the film had a profound effect on me - both times that I saw it.

David Howe
David Howe

You realize that there are Christian Arabs, right? The main character is indeed and "Arab woman". One need not be a Muslim to be an Arab. Religion. Nationality. Two seprarate things. You apparently don't understand the world that you live in.


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