Monday, January 28, 2008


2008 Sundance Film Festival
★ ★

Terrorism movies are the war movies of our generation. But the big difference is that the prospect of terrorism is lurking around all of us, whereas war is something most of us only expect to experience vicariously. So movies about terrorism can be unsettling, because the threat is so very real. That’s the spirit of Incendiary, by director Sharon McGuire (Bridget Jones’ Diary), about a woman (Michelle Williams) who loses her husband and child when bombs go off at a soccer game. There are a dozen reasons not to like this movie, but the fear of losing a child is so powerful that it was easy to get taken by the story.

Michelle Williams is adequate as the mother and Ewan McGregor solid as neighbor/lover. But the story is perplexing and the devices heavy-handed, obvious and contrived. For example, after being hospitalized for injuries after the bombing, she learns her son is dead when she first awakens and sees a large dirigible-like balloon with his face on it, commemorating the dead and floating just outside her window. Huh? What are the chances? And where did they get the photo? How did they pull this off so quickly? Another example might be the graphic sex scene, which occurs while the game is stopped by the bombing, which is on the television. I understand the desire to explain her guilt—engaging in an affair while her husband and son are killed—but do you really need to show the very explicit sex scene to communicate this? Gratuitous? Yes, in every sense of the word. But consistent with the bludgeoning nature of the film.

We’re going to see a lot more terrorism movies in the future, most of them better than Incendiary, and probably some even worse. But in any case, we’re going to watch them, because these acts of senseless violence are in all of our anxiety closets, and we will relate to the fear and suffering.

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Anonymous carmen said...

I liked your very insightful comments on this movie.
( Also, I have a lot of trouble with gratuitous sex scenes in movies.)

12:27 PM  

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