Universal acclaim - based on 34 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 66 Ratings

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  • Summary: When notary Lebel sits down with Jeanne and Simon Marwan to read them their mother Nawal’s will, the twins are stunned to receive a pair of envelopes – one for the father they thought was dead and another for a brother they didn’t know existed. In this enigmatic inheritance, Jeanne sees the key to Nawal’s retreat into unexplained silence during the final weeks of her life. With Lebel’s help, the twins piece together the story of the woman who brought them into the world, discovering a tragic fate as well as the courage of an exceptional woman. (Sony Pictures Classics) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 31 out of 34
  2. Negative: 0 out of 34
  1. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Jun 8, 2011
    Incendies is a gallery of nightly news atrocities - a bus massacre, rape, children with guns - yet it's made intensely personal under the director's steady hand.
  2. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Apr 21, 2011
    Denis Villeneuve's screen adaptation of a play by the Lebanese-Canadian playwright Wajdi Mouawad tells a story-masterfully-of courage, cruelty, family mysteries and a chain of anger that can only be broken by love.
  3. Reviewed by: Stephen Farber
    Apr 19, 2011
    Although the film runs more than two hours, the story is so compelling and the production so beautifully controlled that we are gripped by the characters' quest right up to the shocking end of the story.
  4. Reviewed by: Ed Schied
    Apr 19, 2011
    Azabal is superb, conveying Nawal's fiery presence, determination and mounting bitterness. The impressive cast includes non-professionals from Jordan, where Incendies was filmed.
  5. Reviewed by: David Parkinson
    Jun 20, 2011
    A thriller that twists and turns with an understated power that will have you gripping the arm of your seat. Terrific stuff.
  6. Reviewed by: Roger Moore
    May 17, 2011
    Incendies is occasionally compelling, but also overlong and vexing in the ways it draws out a "shocking" conclusion that we unravel long before the characters do.
  7. Reviewed by: Mark Holcomb
    Apr 19, 2011
    Nawal's travails are more in the vein of a Latin American soap opera than Greek tragedy, and Jeanne and Simon's climactic, genuinely god-awful discovery plays like artistic sleight-of-hand rather than the profoundly tautological revelation it aspires to be.

See all 34 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 19
  2. Negative: 1 out of 19
  1. Sep 22, 2013
    Because it’s so good, after watching Canadien/French Film Incendies for the second time, I thought that it must be based on a novel of play. I needed to find out. I now know that it is based on a play by Wajdi Mouawad. Mouawad is a Canadien writer, and to my delight, Incendies is part of a series of four plays. This means I have three more Incendies-like plays still to read.

    I won’t go through a run-down of the plot, talk in abstractions about arch, characters symbiosis or lack-there-of…. there are tons of proper film reviews out there already dealing with these topics. I thought I’d just talk about two things, the two things that I thought make this an outstanding film: Photography, and the remarkable unfolding of a dramatic story; better film critics than me, which is to say any real film critic, have said that this film pulls off tragedy better than the Greeks.
    The photography… was just as good the second time as it was the first time I saw it. The film opens in a village that could be mistaken for Greece of Israel. At thought maybe this was set and shot in Palestine, but I think most of the film as actually shot in Jordan. Theses shots are actually set to portray a fictional Lebanon, both past and modern day. The history intertwined with the movie seems to be loosely fictional; I can’t find any information on any of the places that appear in film. My Lebanese civil war history is a little rusty. Anyone else?

    There are two shots in particular that stand out. Both are shot at a distance to reveal the vastness of the landscape, unmistakably Mediterranean. Rocky, and the trees, not that I’m a tree expert, but they must be olive or fig trees, they are almost overused as prototypical symbols of the Med, but they work great.
    The first shot I like is actually two shots, meaning one type of shot that is used twice, almost identically. It’s of a bus traveling on a skinny, mountainside road. At first, the camera is in close then pans way out to show the whole panoramic view, massive landscape, and tiny bus, a common technique in World films that are shot in exotic landscapes. The other shot is similar. It is later in the film. One of the characters is driving to a modern day Deressa Refugee camp and there is a shot taken from the sky of the winding roads leading up the side of a mountain. This shot is amazing, and whatever effects of filters the photographer added to make it fit the film’s tone so well, I can’t think of a better word to use to describe them, and the shot as ‘cinematic.’ I know that’s a terrible term to use when describing Cinema, I really do, but a shot like this is so expressive and well-placed in the film, there is nothing going in the film here excepts visuals, the shot on it’s own stands out as an artistic, filmmaking achievement.
    The storyline…unfolds with the precision of a textbook tragedy. It sets up the conflict right off the top--- find missing brother and father. As the drama unfolds the story becomes more and more complex, adding twists and turns to the plot that we never even thought possible. In the end we are left with remains that challenge Oedipus the King in magnitude of ruination, yet still manage to exit the scene with a sparkle of hope. Forgiveness lets the audience breath a little easier as the film closes, a catharsis, but even then the story, the film, will haunt your subconscious for a good while after.
  2. Apr 27, 2011
    A wonderful piece of motion art with a disturbing conclusion . Its a painting of a harrowing scene told in the most beautiful strokes. It stays with you long after. Expand
  3. May 10, 2011
    superb movie. gripping, difficult material to watch. it stays with you for a long time afterwards. superb acting, interesting plot twists and very intriguing movement from present to past and back again. highly recommended. Expand
  4. Apr 28, 2011
    A tremendous film. Even though there's a lot going on, and there's much to unpack, the way the story unfolds is so effortlessly handled, and it's quite a story - packs an enormous punch. Throughout, I kept having to resist my yearning for more historical & geographical context, but I'm guessing the writer/director wanted to keep the focus on Marwan and her personal struggles and tortured history. Highly recommended. Expand
  5. Jul 16, 2012
    Another year, another Oscar snub. The movie is too tragic to be true. The movie leaves you shell-shocked with umpteen twists and turns as the plot swerves from one direction to another disclosing unbelievable facts. A treat to lovers of mystery. Expand
  6. Jul 1, 2013
    Incendies is a work of art that is at some points very disturbing and quite hard to watch. It is let down by a burlesque ending which is disappointing as the rest of the film is a triumph of modern cinema. I thought the actors and actresses played their roles very well. And there is one scene which I found very, very upsetting. Big thumbs up to this film! Expand
  7. May 5, 2011
    It seemed a tad busy, and the languages not being my own first, robbed me I'm sure from some being able to tell if it was genuine in some scenes with the acting...though Grandmother's did seem a little over the top, not buying it some. The story did move in time a lot. The two female lead's too much alike in look made it a good challenge to see where we were in the story. Fine. But a lot of things we could guess what were what and yeah, intentional, what with the characters finding out later...but, so much repetition of some story lines, felt as if, you know, CUT CUT CUT already. We get it. Still, heavy impact at the latter bits. WOW. No spoilers here but, advice: GO TO A COMFORTABLE SEATING PLACE! Regal Cinema in Irvine's blows! Expand

See all 19 User Reviews


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