Canada/France, 2010, 130 min
Upon the reading of their late mother’s will, Canadian twins Jeanne and Simon Marwan are shocked to learn that their father is still alive and they have a brother they didn’t know existed. They are given sealed envelopes to deliver to each and told to travel to their mother’s unnamed native country in the Middle East—which she fled during wartime—to find them. Simon is initially dismissive and refuses, resentful of his mother’s former unreliability and emotional distance. But Jeanne makes the journey and her startling discoveries soon lure Simon into joining her. Bit by bit they uncover the deep scars left on their mother’s life by the war and come to understand the sources of her strange behavior, ultimately discovering an unthinkable secret. Nominated this year for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, Incendies is viscerally cinematic and immensely satisfying as it spins a complex narrative across two continents and several decades. Director Denis Villeneuve, adapting Wajdi Mouawad’s award-winning play, powerfully evokes the tragedy and complexity of the Middle East’s conflicts. Never didactic, the film’s focus remains on the lasting damage left behind. From its uniformly brilliant cast to its stunning, sun-soaked photography and profound emotional range, Incendies is bravura filmmaking. Villeneuve has created a haunting masterpiece that gradually reveals its mysteries through sharply attuned performances and rich storytelling.
Special support for this program generously provided by Thomas and Janet McKinley.