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Review: Incendies

 Thrillingly philosophical art movie
By GERALD PEARY  |  May 12, 2011
3.5 3.5 Stars

Of the five pictures nominated by the Academy for Best Foreign Language Film this year, Denis Villeneuve's Incendies is the one that should have taken the Oscar. This thrillingly philosophical art movie begins in Quebec, with the quest of adult twins, after their mother's death, to find the father and brother they never knew. Their journey sends them to the Middle East and into the footsteps of their late mother (Lubna Azabal), who had been a Christian-born, left-leaning political activist in an unnamed country (Lebanon?) divided between Islamists and right-wing Christians. Incendies moves back and forth between the 1980s and the present, and every scene is unexpected, from the forced recruitment of child soldiers accompanied by a mournful Radiohead song to a startling revelation at a Montreal swimming pool. Even more impressive: how filmmaker Villeneuve weds his film to Sophoclean tragedy, with a mother as politically courageous as Antigone and the surprising appearance of Oedipus reincarnate.

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