Do they have Publisher’s Clearing House in Canada?

Theatrical Release Date: 04/29/2011
Director: Denis Villenueve
Cast: Lubna Azabal, Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin, Maxim Gaudette, Rémy Girard, Abdelghafour Elaaziz
Rated: R for some strong violence and language.
Runtime: 2 hours, 10 minutes


Fine, I’ll leave then.

While award nominations are a good thing for a project’s exposure to wider audiences, it’s always good to recognize that such honors aren’t usually always an objective statement of quality.

Such is the case with one of the recent nominees for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards, “Incendies”. Based on a play by Wajdi Mouawad, we follow two siblings, Simon and Jeanne (Maxim Gaudette and Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin, respectively). They are grieving over the death of their mother, who in her will, asks them to find a brother they never knew they had and a father they thought was dead. This is to bring closure to their family.

Simon is against the plan from the outset but Jeanne feels compelled and makes the trip to the Middle East on her own. Following some setbacks and begging for some support, Simon is compelled into joining the search and the two of them attempt to heal wounds both have buried deep inside.

Working against “Incendies” is how frankly forgettable it is. While I ideally write reviews within a few days of seeing a film, this one just fell to the wayside for over a week. Normally, that wouldn’t be a problem but it took some serious mental exercises plus glances at my notes to remember the core elements. I had simply shed this movie from my memory banks as it left no real impact after viewing it.

There isn’t a problem in the fundamental filmmaking process. The cinematography, production design and other major components were done well. But director/screenwriter Denis Villenueve never seemed to shake the multi-act progression of the source material and this would have been better left on the stage.

So while the performances are good, and it’s clear that there is true passion behind the story, the overall result was wanting. The “twist” is predictable and executed way too heavy-handedly, lessening whatever buildup had been created up to that point. As such, I can only give “Incendies” a 3 out of 5. It’s not a bad movie, but it’s also not one you’ll be chided for skipping by film buffs or one that you should be moving up on the rental queue to satisfy any lingering anticipation.

3 out of 5