The ending will scorch into your mind; no escape. Oscar nominated Best Foreign Film in 2011, by director, Denis Villeneuve, told a story of a young woman, lover, mother, prisoner, in her war-torn country because of power and religious differences. The difference here was it started out as a quest, one for the twin daughter, and one for her twin son;the aim was to find out where they were from by tracing back to their mom’s past, which she never told her twins before she died. Villeneuve chose a “less is more” approach to show us despair, horror, strength, rage, torture, obedience, but never love. Lubna Azabal‘s Nawal Marwan was that torn soul tormented to the very end of her being; it’s a modern day Greek tragedy, indeed.
Estate lawyer Jean Lebel(Rémy Girard) provides the last testament of their mother wishes, which includes funeral and burial details. Then each twin receives an envelope, the daughter, Jeanne Marwan(Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin) has one for her father, the son, Simon Marwan(Maxim Gaudette) his brother that they never knew they existed. Jeanne is a graduate student and studying mathematics, her adviser tells her solving a problem means forgetting about the variables, but focuses on the given facts. Jeanne needs to solve the problem of finding out who her father is or was; she goes to her mother home country to retrace her steps and find out what had happened. Jeanne’s journey stopped when she finds out her mother was raped while in prison, and his brother must now execute his part of the request.
Obviously the contents in those two letters were the hook, cause as an audience, you would want to find out what they said. In addition, by watching Simon’s reactions at the lawyer’s office told you the mother-kids relationship was not a strong one; however, as the story unfolded it offered the reason. The twins were the vehicle to tell the story of Nawal, and it was successful. The baton passing from Jeanne to Simon made perfect sense, as the tracking of the brother would have been difficult to be carried out by the sister alone in a Middle-Eastern country.
I have never found it easy to watch any war movies, whether civil, world, religious, because how can one reconcile killing as a way to protect “whatever”? But it is reality, I must regretfully succumb to its existence, and madness. Hence the, perhaps, accurate depictions of the culture, the location, the war, and senseless killings didn’t affect me as much, cause I accepted them as part of education. Nontheless those events were imperative as they were the threads Nawal used to create such elegant but stained tapestry that was not silently burried in her grave; it finally had its days in the sun.
The film was based on world renowned play by Wajdi Mouawad.