Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan


(Canada, 2010)

In an unnamed Middle Eastern country—based on Lebanon—a woman dies and in her will tells her son and daughter that they must find their father and brother. Which is a surprise to them, since they didn’t know they had a brother. They don’t know much about their childhood, in fact, and little about their mother’s life. The brother isn’t interested, but the daughter sets out on the path of discovery. Much of the story is told in flashbacks to the mother’s life, which is extraordinary and heartbreaking. She is a young woman during the Christian-Muslim fighting in Lebanon, and witnesses atrocities almost impossible to believe, but quite common in those days. All in the name of religion. She spends a lot of time in prison, where she is tortured and raped, and gives birth to twins, the two we saw earlier. But what of the elder brother? She was kicked out of her Christian village for being pregnant. Her lover was killed by her brother in an “honor killing,” and he almost kills her, too. (Those who would do an honor killing are animals, Christian or Muslim, and have no more concept of honor than a garden slug.) There is much discovery, and much horror, and the denouement, though extremely unlikely statistically, is theoretically possible, and totally shattering. It’s a hard film to watch, but well worth your time. The acting is universally great, especially Lubna Azabal as the mother. I thought this was a French film (the title means “scorched”) as it is in the French language, but it is Canadian. It was nominated for the Oscar. I haven’t seen the winning film, but this one would have been a worthy winner. And I have to say, it was nice to see a film about that part of the world that had very little to do with Jews or the State of Israel. There are other hatreds there, too.