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DVD Review: Incendies

September 13, 2011

Incendies – An eOne Films’ Release

DVD Release Date: September 13th, 2011

Rated 14A for violence and disturbing content

Running time: 130 minutes

Denis Villeneuve (dir.)

Denis Villeneuve (writer)

Valérie Beaugrand-Champagne (script consultant)

Based on a play by Wadji Mouawad

Grégoire Hetzel (music)

Lubna Azabal as Nawal Marwan

Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin as Jeanne Marwan

Maxim Gaudette as Simon Marwan

Rémy Girard as Notary Jean Lebel

Our reviews below:


Incendies DVD Review By John C.

**1/2 (out of 4)

When their mother (Lubna Azavel) dies, Jeanne (Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin) and Simon (Maxim Gaudette) set out on a journey to fulfill her final wish.  Travelling from Montreal to the Middle East, they are assigned to deliver letters to their long-lost brother and the father that they had presumed dead.  A mystery unravels involving their mother, and shocking secrets are discovered about their own past.

From the acting to the cinematography, there is something to admire and that many others have even liked about Incendies.  Although confusing, the fractured narrative keeps us guessing, even at times when we are kept at an emotional distance.  But the film is substantially weakened by a contrived and idiotic final reveal that relies far too much on coincidence.  Messy melodrama doesn’t even begin to describe the last ten-minutes of the film.  Many will and already have disagreed with me, but in the end, Incendies is a sometimes admirable piece of work with a ridiculous ending that I ultimately found very hard to take seriously.

The DVD includes a 44-minute ‘making of’ documentary.


Incendies DVD Review by Erin V.  

**3/4 (out of 4)

Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars last year, Canadian film Incendies tells the story of two twins – Jeanne (Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin) and Simon (Maxim Gaudette), and their mother Nawal Marwan (Lubna Azaval).  When Nawal dies, her will is opened revealing instructions to the twins to find their father whom they’ve never met, as well as a brother they didn’t know they had, and deliver a letter she has left to each of them.  Nawal’s story is told through flashbacks, interspliced with her children’s journey to the Middle East to fulfill her final wishes.

Based on a play, the film is well acted and the story is interesting to watch unfold, but a coincidental twist towards the end could be taken as a contrivance.  In some ways it may work better on the stage because the explanation becomes too talky and not what you expect on the big screen.  You can certainly admire the film and it is worth a watch for those interested in indie films, but unfortunately it was not nearly as good as it could have been.


Incendies DVD Review By Nicole

**1/2 (out of 4)

Incendies is a dark family mystery about identity and forgiveness.  When Nawal Marwan (Lubna Azaval), a Middle Eastern-born legal secretary dies, she has a request for her twin Canadian children, Simon (Maxim Gaudette) and Jeanne (Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin).  Her tombstone will not be labeled until the twins deliver two letters to their older brother and their father.  So the twins head off to the Middle East, only to make a shocking discovery.

Incendies is an interesting film, depicting the harshness of a war-torn country.  Told through flashbacks of Nawal’s early adult life, contrasted with the more peaceful present day identity quest, the film held my interest.  But with lack of true character development, a gratuitously violent sniper scene involving the mysterious older brother, as well as a soap opera worthy twist, Incendies is only worth a rental.


Incendies DVD Review By Maureen

**1/2 (out of 4)

Academy award nominee, Genie award winner, Incendies is recognized as a well-respected French-Canadian film.  Adapted from a play by Wajdi Mouawad and directed by Quebec’s Denis Villeneauve, Incendies is both a family drama and a mystery.

The story revolves around a Quebec woman of Middle-Eastern descent, Nawal Marwan (Lubne Azabal).  When she dies, her lawyer informs her adult children, twins Jeanne (Melissa Desormeaux-Poulin) and Simon (Maxim Gaudette) that part of her final wishes include delivering two letters to the Middle-East, one to a brother they didn’t know existed and the other to the father they thought was dead.

Incendies goes back and forth between flashbacks of Nawal as a young adult in the midst of ongoing violent conflicts between Christians and Muslims and daughter Jeanne’s visit to her mother’s homeland.  The cinematography in the Middle-East is beautiful but the violent images and scenes are hard to watch.  As much as I admired and respected Incendies as a well-made film, I didn’t enjoy it.  The overall dark mood and brooding characters just didn’t appeal to me.  When the mystery is finally revealed about the family secrets I couldn’t help but think “what was that about?”

Incendies will have its audience on DVD.  Those who appreciate the work of Denis Villenauve or French Canadian film in general may want to give Incendies a look.


Incendies DVD Review By Tony

***1/2 (out of 4)

Nawal Marwan (Lubna Azabal), l’employée du notaire Jean Lebel (Rémi Girard), vient de mourir, et Lebel s’occupe du testament pour ses enfants jumeaux, Jeanne (Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin) et Simon (Maxim Gaudette). Avant que Nawal soit correctement enterrée, les jumeaux sont chargés de livrer deux lettres, une à leur père et l’autre à leur frère, dont on n’avait jamais rien entendu parler du tout. Jeanne se met d’abord (Simon et Lebel plus tard) en voyage pour son pays d’origine (un pays arabe jamais nommé), et on découvre graduellement  (par des scènes retrospectives) l’histoire triste de Nawal, mélangée dans des révolutions et luttes entre chrétiens et musulmans, et emprisonée. Ce qu’on trouve enfin est totalement inattendu.

Incendies, de Denis Villeneuve après une pièce de Wajdi Mouafad, a déjà gagné plusieurs prix. À plus de deux heures il se déroulle lentement, mais on est toujours captivé de l’histoire d’une femme remarquable et son pays pendant des temps difficiles. Les rôles principaux sont très bien joués, et la production est belle partout.


Consensus:  Being the winner of numerous awards, the French-Canadian Incendies boasts admirable cinematography and fine performances, however it is arguably weakened by a melodramatic final reveal that is destined t0 either deeply move or completely annoy the viewer.  **3/4 (Out of 4)

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