It is quite possible that without Denis Villeneuve I wouldn't be talking about movies at all right now. I was never big into movies until my late teens and Sicario was the first movie I remember seeing in theaters after I started to really watch and appreciate film as the amazing art form that it is. I was so taken back by his direction in that movie and has continued to be impressed with his work time and time again easily making Villeneuve one of my favorite directors of all time if not my favorite overall. Everything he touches has such a quality to it, he never makes a film that is below impressive which is probably a leading factor in why all 6 of the films he made this decade ended up on the watchlist for this series. This is a director whose name being attached to a project will immediately put it high on my radar and I value seeing each of his works for the first time as there is a true quality of art to them. Incendies was one of his films I had been waiting to see and finally, I sat down to watch this movie and to no surprise from me I loved this film quite a bit.
I find the story and plot to be really interesting as far as how well they work. Telling the story of a woman who is exploring her late mother's roots and cutting back and forth between their stories this movie asks a lot from its audience. With very little set up it expects the audience not just to be engaged with this woman and her journey for closure but also to then care about her late mothers life and what she went through which is very personal for Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin's character but could have felt like a big waste of time and miss for the audience. Luckily, with a really powerful script this film is able to translate the emotions coming from the daughter masterfully making us feel the impact of every scene as she learns more and more about her mother making us even more invested as we then see what her mom actually went through which is so painful and raw at times. You can't help but feel empathy as she goes through her trials and she is so empowering as she never seems to lose herself and we know that she makes it through all of this to have her children. This all could have been lost without a clear and smart direction created by the people behind this film and goes to show how masterful their craft is.
The cinematography is also a huge standout throughout this movie as again it can be tricky. Plenty of this movie takes place in huge open spaces yet there needs to be a constant feeling of a claustrophobic tightness due to terrible acts and situations these characters find themselves in. Obviously, this takes some creative shots and camera movements to pull off and they do it flawlessly. From intense close-ups filled with emotion to wide shots showing how alone someone can be, André Turpin clearly put thought to these shots and I loved how he took advantage of each situation visually. He never tried to manipulate a space too much to the point where it lost a natural feeling, take those wide open spaces for example. He doesn't hide from how open they are and instead uses them as what they are if that makes any sense, this is something a less confident cinematographer most likely would not attempt but not only does he jump from this high board but he nails the landing.
Incendies is a film that is so well crafted that it is hard to find flaws within it, the only small thing I would have liked is some more clarification for the situation these characters find themselves in as sometimes there is a lack of understanding between the film and audience as far as what is going on politically and socially in this foreign setting, but as intense and emotional situations happen you are not left thinking of these questions. This film still connects with you to a point where it will stick with you and take your breath away which makes small things like that easy to sweep smaller things like that under the rug. I also think the character of the son/brother could of been explored a little better as he is cast to the side, in the beginning, making his reappearance in the second half feel a bit underwhelming but still, this is another great showcase of the raw talent that Denis Villeneuve possesses and it is a film that will not be leaving me anytime soon.