Highly, highly recommended. Disturbing, timely, and extremely well done. One of the best movies I have seen in a while and one that won’t soon be forgotten.
The movie opens in Quebec, with the viewer introduced to twin brother and sister Simon (Maxim Gaudette) and Jeanne (Melissa Desormeaux-Poulin). Their mother, Nawal (a Lebanese immigrant to Canada) has recently passed away and has left her dying wish in her will- that her children deliver sealed letters (which she’s posthumously provided) to their father and their brother who each reside in an unnamed country in the Middle East (assumed here on and prior in this review to be Lebanon, more on that below). Problem is they don’t know their father at all, having been under the impression he’s most likely dead, and they weren’t aware of their brother’s existence. Simon bucks at the request, leaving Jeanne to travel on her own to Lebanon in search of her father and brother. Through flashbacks, we learn about Nawal’s (played by Lubna Azabal) story, and how and why it came to be that this would be her dying wish. Much of the movie takes place in what is presumably 1970s/1980s Lebanon, during the nasty civil war that took place there (in which Nawal ends up involved), taking the viewer to bleak settings like burned out orphanages and prisons where torture is rife and brutal.
I run the risk of spoiling the movie by stating much more. It packs a few disturbing gut punches, one of which that reaches a bit too far and starts to feel a little forced. The rest of the movie is so grounded that it worked for me still. That slight stretch, as well as some chronological squabbles a discerning viewer might pick up on, are the only things I can fault the movie on, and it makes up for it in other ways to keep it at a 5-star rating.
Also, it’s never specifically stated that the twins and their mom are Lebanese, nor is the country Lebanon ever named. It’s pretty clear that’s the country things unfold in however. In fact, a quick briefing on the basics of the Lebanese civil war would probably be useful for the viewer. Things will make more sense.
Watch it, but be forewarned that this is not lite viewing. Not overly violent, but powerful and disturbing subject matter.
5 out of 5 stars