Incendies (Review)

Oscar-nominted drama is a powerful tale of a fracture family

Jun 2, 2011 at 2:06 pm

Brilliantly constructed from the bountiful narrative fabric of Wajdi Mouawad's complex stage play about a familial legacy passed down from a mother to her fraternal twins, Incendies is one of the most powerful dramas ever conceived.

Director Denis Villeneuve tells the retrospective tale of Nawal (Lubna Azabal), a woman from an unnamed place in the Middle East. Nawal's death enables her will to be passed onto her adult children, twins Jeanne and Simon Marwan (Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin and Maxim Gaudette). The will consists of two envelopes containing letters, one for the father the children believed to be dead, and the other for a brother neither knew existed. The pair travels to the Middle East to retrace their mother's steps that led to their birth.

Told in time-flipping flashbacks, Incendies slowly builds with layers of dramatic narrative information toward a crescendo of undeniable truth that is staggering in its personal import. A pure example of refined storytelling with vast repercussions, Incendies ("destruction by fire") is a fantastic drama. There is no way to explain the depth of pain at the heart of this unique allegory. Grade: A

Opens Friday at Esquire Theatre.