Playing a bit of catch up with these initial posts, unlikely to have much insight at all
I watched this because I love Denis Villeneuve as a director, whilst I thought Prisoners had a bit of a sloppy ending and Sicario was perhaps slightly over rated, I loved the direction and the visuals, also Arrival was one of my favourite films of last year.
It goes without saying that Incendies was wonderfully directed, the opening sequence with the boys getting their heads shaved and the bus sequence are particularly good demonstrations of this fact. It seems fairy clear that the conflict at the centre was the Lebanese civil war despite never being explicitly said and the writer and director both wanting to keep it ambiguous. I thought it was a fascinating conflict and it was presented with the complexities and moral gray areas which I really appreciated.
The two lead actresses were really very good and I enjoyed the film’s structure paralleling their journeys. I thought Simon was far too uninterested in his mother’s dying wishes but I guess that’s understandable. The tragedy of Nihad was brilliant, despite his reprehensible actions, we truly do feel for him when he learns the truth and we understand how he came to do what he did through his upbringing.
For all the positives of this film, the visuals, the music, the acting, the interesting political situation it presented, I didn’t love the story by the end, I thought it was far too rife with huge coincidences that took me out of the narrative. Upon further reflection (watching the special features) I realise that the film was trying to emulate the narrative of a classic Greek tragedy and they did do that fantastically and very cleverly, I’m just not sure such heightened emotional drama necessarily meshed that well with such a grounded backdrop. The mode of story telling reminded me a lot of films like The Burning Plain and The Edge of Heaven which made it feel really quite predictable.
Overall I thought it was a fantastic film and I really enjoyed the technical aspects, although much like other films by Denis Villeneuve, I ended up feeling quite let down by the story towards the end.