To encounter a film of heart-wrenching tragedy, mythic proportions and sweeping visual majesty is rare, but such are the riches of Denis Villeneuve’s Incendies. At the reading of their mother Nawal’s will, twin siblings Simon (Maxim Gaudette) and Jeanne (Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin) learn for the first time that they have a brother and that their father, whom they thought was dead, is in fact alive. Among their mother’s various unsettling requests is her final wish that the twins find both brother and father and deliver to them certain sealed letters. Simon is angry and resistant, but Jeanne feels compelled to respect her mother’s requests.

As a young woman, Nawal fell pregnant out of wedlock in her Middle-Eastern homeland. After narrowly escaping an honour killing, she was forced to give up her baby boy, vowing one day to find him. Shifting back and forth in time, Incendies follows two parallel journeys, expertly interwoven: the twins’ journey to find their brother and father in their mother’s homeland and Nawal’s journey to find her son. Villeneuve masterfully adapts the acclaimed play by Wajdi Mouawad. Moving, visceral and epic, Incendies shows Villeneuve reaching ever greater heights as he probes characters that must face obstacles with extraordinary resilience and love.

Agata Smoluch Del Sorbo,
Toronto International Film Festival