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Art House Asshole : Incendies

| November 26, 2016

You know how when you’re wanting to go to the movie theater and you look up all the films that are showing and there are alway at least three that you’ve never heard of, let alone have any interest in seeing? Well, good news! I’ve seen those movies. I spend most of my theater experiences in art house theaters watching those movies that you’ve never heard of and then never watch. Yeah, I’m that hipster asshole. My goal with this is to spread information out about these films, that way you can decide one of the following. “That actually sounds pretty cool! I want to see that now!” or “Man, I’m glad I decided to go see the new superhero movie!”. So without further ado, here is my article and review of Incendies.

Denis Villeneuve is something else. I decided to watch this film after seeing Villeneuve’s most recent release Arrival. I will talk more about that film on the podcast, but I watched this thinking “There is no way he can top Arrival”. I was wrong. I’ve seen all but two of Villeneuve’s films, those being his first two Maelström and Polytechnique. And this film, Incendies, is without a doubt the best I’ve seen thus far. The film is also his darkest film, which is saying something as he has made films on child murder, actors, and the cartel. Villeneuve is, in my opinion, the only “non-established” director who I believe will be known as one of the greatest directors of all time by his death.

Incendies was what many people consider Villeneuve’s breakout film, earning him a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. It is also the last film Villeneuve made before transitioning into making English Language films. It is safe to say that this film is what got him Prisoners and launched his career into not the mainstream but just below it. And if you have seen his other films, you can see that this is, in fact, a Villeneuve film.

Incendies follows two twins, who after their mother’s death, attempt to find their secret brother so he can know of her death and have some kind of closure. The film follows the twins as the go to the Middle East and investigate who their mother was and who their brother might be. I believe that Villeneuve is one of the best suspense directors since Hitchcock. Villeneuve knows how to capture an audience and move them through a story. And he does so with ease and perfection in this film. The film is separated into chapters and bounces back and forth between the daughter investigating her mother’s past, and her mother living her past. And then there is a reveal toward the end of the film that completely blew my mind. I’m not sure if I would call it a plot twist, but between this and Arrival it is clear that if anyone can do twists it’s Villeneuve.

This film is almost perfect in my mind, but there are a few things that I can see someone else having problems with. The first is that this film is very emotional, the most of all of Villeneuve’s work. It is extremely depressing throughout and I can see someone calling the film “Misery Porn”. Personally, that doesn’t bother me. The film never went into an area where I thought the horribleness wasn’t earned or helped the story. But if you can’t handle some heavy subject matters like torture, rape, and death of children, then maybe this film isn’t for you. The second problem I had with this film is less of a problem and more of a double-edged sword. The actress who plays the daughter and the actress who plays the young mother, look incredibly similar. To the point where when it would switch between the two I would get confused and it would take me a bit to adjust and realize that we were in a different time period. Eventually, I adjusted and was able to hear the beats the signified that this was a different time period, but there was an adjustment period that was a bit confusing in the first part of the film. But at the same time, though, I would much rather the actresses who play mother and daughter look similar than the opposite so like I said, it’s a double-edged sword.

If you like Villeneuve’s other work, I strongly recommend you check this one out. It is clear that this was something that he was given almost creative control over with the darkness, something I don’t think we will ever see again from him if he continues to work in American Film. This isn’t necessarily bad, but it is something different we might not get another chance to see. So check it out because it is incredible.

Also as a big overall suggestion, if you haven’t already, start exploring Canadian Cinema. Between Villeneuve, Xavier Dolan, Jean-Marc Vallée, and much more, Quebec is producing some of the best film directors out there today. And it is hard to go wrong with a lot of them.

About the Author:

Henry Jarvis is the youngest member of the Reel Nerds. His favorite films include Space Jam and Dude, Where’s My Car? and Lawrence of Arabia. He enjoys those pretentious art house films that Ryan hates. He sees a lot of movies! Honestly more than he should. He replaces his lack of social skills and meaningful friendships with his love of cinema! He’s also crying while he writes this biography for himself. His favorite directors are Andrei Tarkovsky, David Fincher, and David Lean.

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