It feels as if I have lived a lifetime in two hours. As if I have traversed a thorny path of sorrow, misery and broken fates in a war torn landscape where nothing can grow but hatred. A loathing which knows no logic, no limitations and serves just one purpose: violence. Piling over the backdrop of barbarity, Villeneuve constructs a tragedy that roots straight back to the existence of his lead characters. He plays around with identities, gives shapes and forms to the relationships only to take them all back with time. And with brilliant directorial strokes in some of the rawest cathartic moments, Incendies storms past your insides with a reckoning.
Incendies pushes us down a rabbit hole as soon as it begins when a mother passes on two letters to her twins from beyond the grave, requesting them to unravel the knots of her past. She asks them to find their lost father and introduces them to a brother they thought they never had. Strings loose apart in a rather volatile fashion when this search takes the twins out to a nation still reeling from the horrors of religious divides that haunted it in the 80’s. Then, Villeneuve starts interjecting multiple timelines to escalate the emotional gallop of the narrative and balances them precisely on the knife.
Haunting background score from the likes of Radiohead coupled with some jaw dropping cinematography makes this experience extremely personal and universal concurrently. Lingering camera shots on ruins of a city and the ever present smoke over the horizon ensures that dread remains up close to the characters and the sorrow is felt in each passing second. The narration winds long distances, often echoing the need for hope in contrasting desolate backdrops. It then, like a lethal hawk, chews apart the remains of bruised emotions left inside you by the time end credits roll.
Incendies rips your heart out and then serves it on a platter for you to see where all you bled. Like a surgeon who has mastered his needlework skills, Denis Villeneuve plucks open the landscape of his tragedy peel by peel and allows the sorrows to linger on in the air, gut punching your insides. Incendies is an essential watch, a drama that is mercilessly shocking in its cruelty and beautifully destructive in its scope.