“Blade Runner 2049” arrives in theatres on Fri., Oct. 6, and director Denis Villeneuve’s follow-up to Ridley Scott’s groundbreaking, 1982 film is garnering multitudes of buzz and anticipation. Villeneuve is no stranger to science fiction, as his “Arrival” (2016) scooped up eight Oscar nominations in 2017, including Best Picture and Best Director, and it won for Sound Editing.
With “Blade Runner 2049”, “Arrival”, “Sicario” (2015), and “Prisoners” (2013) proudly sitting on his resume, this Quebec native has quickly become one of Hollywood’s most respected directors.
Art House Film Wire believes that Villeneuve’s best film, however, is his effort from 2010, “Incendies”, nominated for a Best Foreign Film Oscar.
“Incendies” (2010) – Villeneuve’s family drama – under a backdrop of violence and war in the name of religion – is a stunning journey. An extremely difficult one to shake. At first, the picture begins ordinarily enough. In Quebec, a set of 20-something twins, Jeanne (Melissa Desormeaux-Poulin) and Simon (Maxim Guadette) Marwan sit in a gray, dimly lit office across from a notary, and he reads the terms from their mother’s will.
Nawal Marwan (Lubna Azabel) decided to divide her assets equally between her two children, but the scene takes an odd turn as the notary – who is also her former employer – reads off two strange last requests. Jeanne and Simon don’t understand either demand, while appearing burdened by a lifetime of frustration and miscommunication caused by their mom.
More visibly upset than his sister, Simon curses while exclaiming their mom was crazy and doesn’t wish to participate in either one of her wishes. Jeanne takes a more mature, seasoned approach and begins an excursion to the Middle East to search for answers. Along the way, the picture alternates between flashbacks of Nawal’s painful life, while Jeanne picks up important clues in present-day.
Jeanne is stranger in a strange land, and she’s as confused – as are we – by the uneven and haphazard turns that she encounters on her way to discovery, and it becomes clear to Jeanne that she might not like what she finds.
“Incendies” doesn’t pull any punches, and in order to convey this story, Desormeaux-Poulin plays a key role as our guide. She successfully coveys her character’s deep wells of emotional strength. Jeanne thankfully holds the moral center of the picture, and we lean on her to keep our balance in Villeneuve’s unshakable film. (Netflix DVD Only, Amazon Streaming)
⭐⭐⭐⭐ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Image credits: Sony Pictures Classics; YouTube credits: eOne Films