March 10, 2015


Denis Villeneuve, 2010
Every family has their secrets. The secrets can vary in severity. Some are innocent, like a mother that had gone on a momentary shoplifting excursion decades earlier. She lets it slip out over a dinner where she drank one too many glasses of wine with her college-aged kids. They all laugh about it, “oh mom!”. But some are more painful. Infidelity, buried under years of silence. Some are incomprehensible. Abuse, confinement, torture. Rarely are family secrets as brutal as the Marwan family secrets. Instead of discovering the secrets from their mother directly, they must learn about them from her last will and testament as her former employer / notary reads it all to them. Their mother was a woman that they appear to have never known fully, a woman that they struggled to understand. Daughter Jeanne is more restrained as she attempts to process it all, while twin brother Simon sits frustrated. Like most people, they assume the whole last will and testament process would be a rather efficient one. One where they could simply go through the typical procedure and get some closure and move on with their lives.

Their search for the newly discovered, unknown blood relatives leads them on an emotional journey, mostly traveled by Jeanne while Simon sits with it all for a while. The film is largely this search for answers. Villeneuve is a filmmaker not afraid to make his audiences endure some of the details. He is unrestrained, unfiltered, unapologetic. Because of this, Incendies itself is a difficult film to watch at times. The story itself is heavy. As the layers of the onion are unpeeled, the emotional toll grows bigger and bigger. Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulindoes a fantastic job with her Jeanne character. Empathetic and desperate for answers, you can see the weight growing on her. She must retrace steps of her mothers past, completely oblivious to the fact that they are places that her mother was so desperate to get away from. Her mother was so determined to create a new life for herself and her family. She was so determined to provide a life for her children that would differ from her own. A life without the same struggles, the same pain, the same subjection, the same drudgery. But while she was able to geographically escape the torture of her past, she was clearly never able to fully escape it psychologically. She must have realized in her final days that her children must know the truth, must know their true lineage. An exploration into the idea of future generations carrying their ancestor’s past, whether they like it or not. The story is a persevering attempt to seek closure, and you seek it as much as the Marwan twins do. You get the closure you’re looking for, leaving you wondering if it’s even enough after such a gripping story reveals such brutal truth.

No comments:

Post a Comment