Sometimes a great film fails to register on The Bureau's radar when it comes out. This was the case with Canadian director Denis Villeneuve's "Incendies" which was nominated for a Foreign Film Oscar in 2011. The bureau chief recently noticed increased references to the film which were most likely connected to the director's increasing reputation. His latest film "Sicario" with Emily Blunt and Benicio del Toro was in this year's Cannes Film Festival. I decided to take a look at "Incendies".
It's from a play of the same name by Wajdi Mouawad and stars an amazing actress named Lubna Azabal as Nawal Marwan, an Arab immigrant to Canada. It's set in contemporary times in that country and in an unnamed country in the Middle East. It's both a mystery and a classic tragedy. Nawal dies suddenly from a stroke and in her will asks her adult children, who are twins, a brother and sister, to find their father and a brother they did not know existed and to give each of them a letter. The brother refuses the request but the sister, Jeanne, played by the very good Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin, accepts. She goes to the Middle Eastern country and as she finds things out about her mother we see Narwal in flashbacks going through the events that the daughter has discovered. When Jeanne stumbles upon darker and darker things, she demands that her brother help her and he comes to the Middle East accompanied by the executor of the will, a notary who was the Narwal's employer. Ultimately they stumble upon the truly dark thing.
By all means do not read the Wikipedia article on this film before you watch it since it gives away the complete plot. This is a tough film to watch but it's also amazing. If you like it, the "making of" extra included in the DVD is well worth a look.The film was shot in Jordan and refugees from Iraq, Lebanon and Syria were not just extras but played some of the speaking roles. They were reenacting things that had happened to them in real life.