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Movie review: Incendies (2010)

GenreDrama, War, Psychological, Slow-burn
LanguagesFrench, Arabic, English
TNS Score90
PlatformPrime Video
Run-Time2h 10m
CastLubna Azabal, Mélissa Désorme, Maxim Gaudette, Rémy Girard
DirectorDenis Villeneuve


The story revolves around Nawal, who hails from the conflicted part of the Middle East. Now that she’s on her death bed in Montreal, she places two letters in her will for her twin children. Jeanne, her daughter, is asked to give her father the letter, whom she never knew while growing up. Simon, her son, has to deliver the letter to his brother; he never knew he existed before this. Both her children travel to the Middle East to find out the shocking reality of their mother’s life and the subsequent truth about their own. We’re taken to the war-torn land of a country in the Middle East, where Nawal survived the hardships of her life.


The narrative has been written very well. It rightly juxtaposes the present with the past. When say, ‘we don’t know what the past buries,’ the statement stands true for the twin’s life. Their mother’s life has been a mystery to them until she asks them to find out the truth. The narrative strongly moves the audience with clean layering. The impact is huge by the end.


Brilliance in direction is established, right in the first scene. We see a room full of little boys with shaven heads. Their right foot is inked from behind. This makes sense only as the movie progresses. But one can estimate the upcoming blows right from the beginning. The film’s portrayal of the insurgency and civil war is very apt. It doesn’t fail to deliver the message of its impact on people who have to live through it. Another directionally brilliant shot is when we see Nawal travelling to the South to find her first son.

She has to take up the disguise of a Muslim woman to be able to travel. The bus meets with a group of politically charged terrorists, who open fire on the passengers. Everybody dies other than Nawal and a woman with her daughter. This scene is particularly very moving.
The film can be called a sequence of brilliantly shot scenes that don’t fail to deliver the narrative’s essence.


Lubna Azabal characterises Nawal Marwan in all her glory and pathos. Some of the best scenes from the film feature Lubna. Melissa Desormeaux does a great job while characterising Jeanne Marwan. Maxim Gaudette and Remy Girard have a significant share in making the film brilliant on screen.


The film asks us to look at conflicts and its tremendous impact on human life sufferings. What Nawal had to undergo wasn’t just inhumane but far above the pain-taking capacity of a human. Her life story outlines a bigger context for the war-torn countries and their citizens. The film is a must-watch for its immortal impact.

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