Incendies is not a pleasant film. It goes all of the places that we hope it won’t, and although the ending is hopeful and subtly inspirational, it is a chore to get to that point. This is a testament to the power of the filmmaking, but I also have no urge to re-watch this film anytime soon. It is a movie much easier to respect than to enjoy, a bit like Oldboy without as much action.
Twins Jeanne and Simon are living in
when their mother passes away, leaving them with a mystery about the past. In her will she asks the children to find their father in the Canada Middle East, despite having told them their entire life that their father was dead. They are also asked to give a letter to their brother, a brother the twins had no knowledge of either. This mystery in the Middle East unfolds into an understanding of their mother’s past and a revelation about their own origins.
Incendies switches back and forth from the twins search to flashbacks of their mother’s plight of existence in a war-torn country. Each devastating situation to the next brings to light the truth about the mother of the twins, and knowledge of her life which they had never before known. It is painful to endure these revelations, as the film seems to show no hope for an end to this cruelty beyond fleeing to