The wait was well worth it. This was #1 in my Netflix queue for the longest time, but kept getting passed over (“long wait” blah-blah). I had never waited more than a second pass to get my #1 pick, and I was getting perturbed. I had missed initially at TIFF ’10 too, but all’s well that ends well, and this film will assuredly end up on my 2011 top ten list. Just a nearly flawless, disturbing, and ultimately transcendent film experience. I felt about this as I had after a film I saw at last years Toronto International Film Festival, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia.
The film has a great opening and a shocking conclusion, and in between it’s riveting cinema. Jeanne and her brother Simon are being read the will of their mother who has recently died. The lawyer hands out envelopes to them as the last will and testament of their mother, with directions to give one to their father and the other to their brother. Both believed their father was dead a long time ago, and neither knew they even had another sibling. That’s setting the stage, huh? The will contains these words:
Childhood is a knife stuck in your throat. It can’t easily be removed.
Wow. Lubna Azabal is cast as Nawal Marwan and Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin is Jeanne. Both women are splendid in this intense family drama. I say ‘family drama’, a designation that I usually shy away from, but this is of the highest order and not what usually comes to mind with mention of this category. But it’s a war drama as well that never flinches from the brutality of ethnic conflict and war. I keep thinking about this film. It really deserves a second viewing. If you haven’t seen it, you really should.