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Incendies (2011)

tomatometer

92

Average Rating: 7.9/10
Reviews Counted: 118
Fresh: 109 | Rotten: 9

It's messy, overlong, and a touch melodramatic, but those flaws pale before Incendies' impressive acting and devastating emotional impact.

85

Average Rating: 7.9/10
Critic Reviews: 34
Fresh: 29 | Rotten: 5

It's messy, overlong, and a touch melodramatic, but those flaws pale before Incendies' impressive acting and devastating emotional impact.

audience

92

liked it
Average Rating: 4.3/5
User Ratings: 15,342

My Rating

Movie Info

Director Denis Villeneuve adapts Wajdi Mouawad's play concerning a pair of twins who make a life-altering discovery following the death of their mother. Upon learning that their absentee father is still very much alive and they also have a brother they have never met, the pair travels to the Middle East on a mission to uncover the truth about their mystery-shrouded past. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

R,

Drama

Sep 13, 2011

$6.9M

Sony Pictures Classics - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (119) | Top Critics (34) | Fresh (109) | Rotten (9) | DVD (4)

A strong film based on a weak story.

June 22, 2011 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's a powerful, disturbing film. May there be a day when such works seem less relevant.

May 27, 2011 Full Review Source: Detroit News | Comment (1)
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Rage has no expiration date in Incendies, director Denis Villeneuve's gripping, era-jumping drama about a family melded to its war-torn past.

May 26, 2011 Full Review Source: Dallas Morning News
Dallas Morning News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A deeply resonant literary quality gives what might otherwise seem like a dubious series of coincidences a profound sense of plausibility.

May 26, 2011 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It is no surprise that it was nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.

May 20, 2011 Full Review Source: Washington Post | Comments (2)
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Villaneuve knows how to stoke a hot debate about the legacy of violence. But in this case, where there's smoke, there's not enough air.

May 20, 2011 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Rewarding, but ridiculously stingy in handing out simple details -- relationships, geographical settings, etc. -- vital to our grasp of what's going on.

January 10, 2013 Full Review Source: McClatchy-Tribune News Service
McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Watching Incendies is a long, hard, and emotionally draining experience but one that richly rewards the time and effort invested.

October 4, 2012 Full Review Source: PopMatters
PopMatters

Every time the film begins to feel more like a history lesson than a drama, it explodes into action.

August 11, 2011 Full Review Source: Flicks.co.nz
Flicks.co.nz

It's a raw and brutal look at the unending strife in the region, but it's also an unforgettable mystery that keeps the audience riveted through one surprising plot turn after another.

August 4, 2011 Full Review Source: Capital Times (Madison, WI)
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

...an intense and shattering experience, a nearly great film about promises and kinship and the secret, cruel lives our parents lived before we knew them

July 24, 2011 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

A story of hope amid the ruins -- one that everybody can appreciate, no matter their politics.

July 22, 2011 Full Review Source: Times-Picayune
Times-Picayune

Enthralling and very disturbing.

July 10, 2011 Full Review Source: FilmsInReview.com
FilmsInReview.com

A beautifully filmed and movingly performed drama which explores how personal motives breed political radicalism, Incendies is occasionally - but not fatally - stymied by its clever-clever narrative contrivance.

June 29, 2011 Full Review Source: Film4 | Comment (1)
Film4

Incendies acquires its heft from some very deep places -- Greek tragedy rather than newsflashes.

June 28, 2011 Full Review Source: Sight and Sound
Sight and Sound

Incendies is muscular, emotional film-making of the highest order, self-confident in its delivery yet always respectful of its characters' plight.

June 26, 2011 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

Normally I'm against decent original stories being dumbed down and squashed into bog-standard thriller shapes. But Incendies is in dire need of some dumbing down.

June 25, 2011 Full Review Source: News of the World | Comments (5)
News of the World

Of the four 2010 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nominees that I've seen, Canada's Incendies ranks as the only one remotely worthy of the prize.

June 25, 2011 Full Review Source: Creative Loafing
Creative Loafing

It isn't easy to open out a well-respected stage play without losing a lot of its bite and subtlety.

June 24, 2011 Full Review Source: This is London
This is London

Denis Villeneuve's tormented family drama strips off one layer of meaning after another on its way to a thoroughly jolting terminus.

June 24, 2011 Full Review Source: Independent
Independent

Absorbing throughout, Incendies has the feel of a Greek tragedy until a conclusion that stretches credibility to breaking point.

June 23, 2011 Full Review Source: Daily Express
Daily Express

The movie never feels long, partly because of Azabal's terrific performance.

June 23, 2011 Full Review Source: Charlotte Observer
Charlotte Observer

It is not really believable, and yet if it is not taken literally, but as a cinematic prose-poem, it has undoubted force.

June 23, 2011 Full Review Source: Guardian [UK] | Comment (1)
Guardian [UK]

Incendies is in essence a family drama, astonishingly intense but impressively poised.

June 23, 2011 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

Elemental and expertly directed, Nawal's story haunts long after the credits have rolled.

June 23, 2011 Full Review Source: Little White Lies
Little White Lies

A wholly cinematic drama that combines twists and suspense with harrowing political insight.

June 23, 2011 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

Audience Reviews for Incendies

Very compelling film. Worth watching.
December 25, 2013
Raajay

Super Reviewer

"Incendies" is a masterpiece; a virtually flawless piece of writing, directing, and acting that comes together in a narrative of no easy answers and a ending to leave you rattled.
October 21, 2013
YLOWBSTARDreturns

Super Reviewer

Although the story can sometimes feel slightly contrived, over-neat and melodramatic (perhaps really lacking still deeper character explorations to justify the extremes of the narrative), this is a powerful, gripping, insightful film with strong cinematography, charged performances and a devastating emotional impact.
October 26, 2012
Louis Rogers

Super Reviewer

When films span multiple time periods and have several main characters, you can be sure that everything will come together in the most contrived way, often revealing things that are less shocking than intended simply because of their lack of believability. Incendies is one such film, but it manages to overcome the limitations of this narrative structure because of its compelling subject matter and stunning lead performances.
Twins Jeanne and Simon Marwan sit down to hear the will of their mother, Nawal, who has recently passed away. They are shocked to learn that Nawal's final wish is for the pair to deliver envelopes to two people they didn't know prior to this - their father and their brother. Simon refuses to do so, but Jeanne feels compelled to learn more about her mother's past, something that is now a complete mystery. So she leaves Canada for Lebanon. Meanwhile, the story also tracks Nawal as a young student caught up in a rising war between Christians and Muslims. This leads her to commit an act for which she's caught an imprisoned in the most horrific of conditions for well over a decade.
On the surface, Incendies embraces the usual thematic principles that war is hell and it cuts promising lives too short. But writer director Denis Villeneuve manages to elevate his story above the usual cliches that Hollywood war films love to embrace. Villeneuve's eye is on understanding and watching these characters as they try to come to terms with the unforgiving world they have been born into, and how that world shapes them. The detail that goes into re-creating the Middle East conflict for this film is precise yet unobtrusive. Incendies manages to create an epic scope of Lebanon and Canada while limiting the audience's perspectives strictly to that of its main protagonists, Nawal and Jeanne. Both actors - Lubna Azabel and Melissa Desormeaux-Poulin respectively - are expected to communicate much to the audience through their silence and restrained reactions. The camera maintains a lot of focus on their faces, capturing the subtle hints that suggest their characters are trying to figure everything out. Such performances are always challenging for actors and one of the reasons why so many poorly made movies often have their actors speaking how they feel out loud. Denis Villeneuve is too skilled for such nonsense and so are his actors.
As I mentioned earlier, Incendies runs a little too long, and it's twist ending feels very contrived and predictable long before it's even revealed. But that should not deter any audience member from wanting to experience this powerful film, a genuine highlight of contemporary Canadian cinema.
March 6, 2012
MovieGeek13

Super Reviewer

    1. Nawal Marwan: We stand for peace, not for religion.
    – Submitted by Mani K (22 months ago)
    1. Simon Marwan: One plus one equals two, right?
    – Submitted by Christian R (2 years ago)
    1. Jeanne Marwan: I'm in Mom's village. I wish you were here.
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
    1. Notary Jean Lebel: To a notary, Mr. Marwan, a promise is a sacred thing.
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
View all quotes (4)

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Foreign Titles

  • Die Frau die singt - Incendies (DE)
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