Feature

Incendies

Denis Villeneuve's drama about family and war was nominated for an Oscar in the foreign-language category.

Directed by Denis Villeneuve
(R)

***

“This is the film that should have won an Oscar” in the foreign-language category, said Joe Morgenstern in The Wall Street Journal. Grounded in the quest of two adult siblings to understand their late mother’s past in a war-torn Middle Eastern country, it captures in epic style “the biblical nature of sectarian violence.” Most of Denis Villeneuve’s “extraordinary” film plays as riveting mystery, said David Edelstein in New York. The mother, played in the movie’s unsettling flashbacks by an indescribably effective Lubna Azabal, left her Canadian-born children two letters—one to be delivered to a father they had presumed dead and the other to a sibling they didn’t know they had. “Ten minutes from the end, there’s a preposterous turn” that reveals Incendies to be a work of mythmaking, but that doesn’t rob its brutal war scenes of their enduring sting. But message matters, said Kyle Smith in the New York Post. This is a film that asks us to forgive Muslim atrocities because Christians can be just as cruel. It’s “an urgent plea to tolerate the intolerant.”

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