Monday, February 21, 2011

Incendies and the Ring of Perfection

I talked about the ring of perfection here and here, so to quickly recap, it's the feeling you get when you watch a movie that profoundly moves you or gives you a crushing insight. I am extremely pleased to report that I've discovered another movie that falls into this category. The movie is Incendies ("Scorched"), the Canadian submission in the "Best Foreign Language" film category for the upcoming Oscars. I'm surprised by how good this movie is for two reasons: 1) Oscar movies lately seem to rather suck, and 2) Canadian movies tend to be too self-consciously Canadian to be really fantastic, and this one isn't self-conscious at all. I am proud that Canada made this movie.

The story takes the form of a Greek tragedy and begins with a riddle that a set of adult twins discover in their mother's will and have to solve after her death. The twins, who grew up in Quebec, don't speak Arabic, and have never previously spent time in the Middle East, have to retrace their mother's horrendously traumatizing past in an unnamed country that seems to be Lebanon. I was pleased to see that, although this movie is about a Middle East conflict, what is commonly referred to as the Middle East conflict (i.e. between Israel and the Arab world) does not so much as make an appearance.

To tell you more would be to ruin the movie, but the story is perfectly taut and the revelations are perfectly frightening. Admittedly, you will probably not exactly enjoy watching this movie because it is deeply horrifying, but it will surely haunt your dreams. It did mine, anyway.

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