DRAMA; 2hr 10min (Arabic and French with subtitles)
STARRING: Lubna Azabal, Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin, Maxim Gaudette
Imagine learning at a reading of your late mother’s will that the father you believed dead is alive and that you have a brother. Twins Jeanne and Simon Marwan (Desormeaux-Poulin and Gaudette) react very differently — he’s in angry denial while she, a mathematician accustomed to tackling riddles, is more accepting. And as the twins’ notary (Rémy Girard) wisely observes, “Death is never the end of the story.” Jeanne and Simon will come to understand that their mother, Nawal (Azabal), was a dark horse with a shocking past.
Adapting from Wajdi Mouwad’s stage play Scorched, Québécois writer-director Denis Villeneuve dips back 35 years to make sense of how Nawal evolved into the woman she became. For the twins, who travel to Nawal’s native Middle East in search of answers, her violent and chaotic ordeal becomes a shattering mirror of the present. Incendies is a passionately performed indictment of the awful personal tolls of war. Yet brutal as its resolution is, as the pieces of the puzzle slot into place, there’s a sense, too, of how goodness can prevail, even in the face of the unspeakable.