I feel upset after having watched the film Incendies.
Trying to figure out what the film’s message is, I come to the conclusion that it tries to show what kind of suffering and tragedy a war or civil conflict can inflict on a person and her or his family.
Is it a real story? Anyone who knows some history of the Middle-East will recognise Lebanon as Nawal Marwan’s war ridden homeland; they might also remember the historical figure of Souha Bechara who tried to assassinate a general of the South Lebanon Army in 1988 and whose story is loosely weaved into the film. On that basis some viewers might believe the film tells a true story – it does not! – and might also believe that people at that time, Christians and Muslims, Lebanese and Palestinians, were cruel, heartless and committing all those atrocities also shown in the film.
Luckily the whole story does not make much sense and, although seemingly realistic at first sight, lacks realism when you start thinking about it. What is expected to be an exciting mystery with historical background when you start watching, turns into a sick, pointless drama with some historical facts twisted to suit the director (or should I say distorted by Wajdi Mouawad who wrote the original play) which could not even be saved by expanding on the maturing characters of the brother and sister.
Now is the title `Incendies’ indicating an association with fire, as in your heart and mind burning after learning a horrifying secret, or children born as a result of a mother’s internal fire or a country on fire – or is it a play on a word suggesting incest? Oops, hope I did not spoil it for you…
P.S. A great review (of quite a different sounding) can be found here.