vanessa williams

Made in: Great Britain
Language: English
Director: Sharon Maguire
Starring: Vanessa Williams, Ewan McGregor, Matthew MacFadyen, Nicholas Gleaves, Sidney Johnston, Sasha Behar, Usman Khokhar
Year: 2008

Based on the novel by Chris Cleave.

Synopsis: A troubled young mother (Vanessa Williams) is married to Lenny (Nicholas Gleaves), an intense police officer who's on the bomb disposal unit. They have a four year-old son (Sidney Johnston), who's the center of his mother's world.

Lenny works late hours and is called away often, leaving the young mother lonely, depressed, and driven to drink after putting their son to bed. She meets Jasper Black (Ewan McGregor), a charming investigative reporter, and starts having an affair with him. On May Day, Lenny and the son are at a much-anticipated football (aka soccer) match between Chelsea and Arsenal. Jasper cancels his plans to attend the match, and meets up with the young mother.

Suddenly, the football stadium is destroyed in a massive suicide bombing which kills thousands, including Lenny and the child. This happens just as Jasper and the mother are shagging on her living room sofa with the game being televised live on the telly. As she struggles to cope with the loss, the young mother later becomes involved with Terrance (Matthew Macfadyen), Lenny's superior officer.

As the love triangle takes shape, Jasper begins uncovering the truth behind the bombing while the mother starts befriending the unsuspecting wife (Sasha Behar) and teenage son (Usman Khokhar) of one of the terrorists.

The Good: The situations for emotional intensity are well set-up, and Vanessa Williams does a convincing job playing a woman dealing with a tidal wave of strong feelings and devastating revelations.

The Bad: Unfortunately, Incendiary is too slow, muddled, and unfocused. Director Sharon Maguire, known for the 2001 hit Bridget Jones' Diary, jumps from subject to subject. One moment, the film is about a troubled woman trying to be a good mother. Then, it's about the intricacies of infidelity.

And then, it tries to tackle the aftermath of death, and the hot-button issue of suicide bombing. Throw in a touch of conspiracy theory and we've got a film that can't possibly explore so many issues with any depth within a 100-minute time frame.

Incendiary is also a waste of Ewan McGregor and Matthew MacFadyen, two accomplished actors whose characters are pretty thin. It seems as though the 2005 novel of the same name contained a lot of internal descriptions of the characters, which should have stayed on the printed page. Assuming the book was solid, I'm willing to assume that the movie was just a poor adaptation.

Who would like this movie: Sadly, I wouldn't recommend Incendiary, even if you're a fan of foreign films. Although the cast is good, the subject matter is all right, and there are some convincing emotional moments, the film just doesn't come together. It's simply boring, too unfocused, and forgettable.

(2 stars out of 4)

Review written by: Joe Yang

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