Thursday, 26 January 2012

Incendies, dir. Denis Villeneuve, scr. Denis Villeneuve, Valérie Beaugrand-Champagne, based on Scorched by Wajdi Mouawad, st. Lubna Azabel, Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin, Maxim Gaudette

Based on the award-winning play by Mouawad, and one of last year's nominees for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards, Villeneuve's extraordinary film set against the backdrop of the Lebanese Civil War unfolds with burning intensity and with exceptional performances, particularly from Azabel. She plays Nawal Marwan, first seen in the present day, her numbed expression we put down to the stroke we're told she has just suffered, but that we learn carries an unimaginable weight. The timeline ripples back and forth as Marwan's twins begin to uncover the burden of their Mother's past. The film is also remarkably packaged technically, André Turpin's free-floating camera-work making the most of the location's arenaceous war-torn landscapes. Much like Michael Haneke's Caché, this film has a lot to say about next generations atoning for the sins of their forefathers and how true forgiveness can filter down the timeline, impervious to changing political climates, but the real story here is one of the simple bond between Mother and child, and, when tested, the many forms that might take. With an Eno-esque score from Greégoire Hetzel and workably anachronistic use of a couple of Radiohead tracks, Incendies is a courageous and commendable work.