REVIEWED BY: Matt Posted on 27/04/2011
By definition, acts of terrorism result in civilian deaths. When London is rocked by a massive, concerted suicide bomb attack that destroys the Emirates Stadium right in the middle of a Premier League football match, thousands are killed. Among them are the husband and young son of an East End mother (Michelle Williams) who witnesses the event live on television...whilst having sex with the reporter who lives over the road (Ewan McGregor).
In the days that follow, she is forced to come to terms with a life alone and her own feelings of guilt and loss. Meanwhile, both the reporter and an anti-terrorist officer (Matthew McFadyen) both work at the twin goals of winning the young mother's heart...and finding out the identity of the bombers.
Director Sharon Maguire has a background in documentary television and she brings this to bear in a low-key, matter-of-fact shooting style that keeps proceedings very intimate. There is the occasional dalliance into memory or fantasy to illuminate the emotional state of the lead character, but even these are handled in a casual, distant manner.
On the acting side, Michelle Williams does terrific work as the oddly unnamed young mother. Her descent into grief is carefully played so we never lose sympathy with her despite some erratic, emotionally-driven decisions the character makes. Williams also does that rarest of a tricks - an American actor putting on a convincing English accent. Indeed, perhaps the last actor to do this in a high profile film may well have been Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones's Diary ...which also happens to be Maguire's only other narrative feature film.
The DVD box cover art and blurb present Incendiary as a thriller, but that is not the case. This is a character piece, a portrait of a woman trying to piece her life back together and find her own strength out of chaos. The main narrative framing device is a voiceover of a letter the young mother has written to Osama bin Laden as a way of marshalling her thoughts and feelings.
The film unfurls at a measured pace, but never really grips tightly. Without any drama around the plot itself, we are left to simply observe the different stages of grief that Williams' character goes through and how she crumbles and then tries to recover. As such, it is definitely a solid piece of work, but never fully engaging.
A mature film, Incendiary is a quiet look at the effects of loss and how one person can reinvent themselves out of disaster. As a dramatic work, it fails to maintain its running time and certainly does not match the slam-bang nature of its marketing. A mixed bag.
DIRECTOR(S): Sharon Maguire | COUNTRY: United Kingdom | YEAR 2009 | DISTRIBUTOR(S): Beyond Home Entertainment | RUNNING TIME: 96 minutes | ASPECT RATIO: 2.35:1 | REGION: 4 | DISCS: 1
Order through WOW HD and recieve a 5% Cinemania fan discount on every order