In the 2008 film Incendiary, Michelle Williams stars as an adulterous young mother who’s life crumbles following the death of her husband and young son. There really is nothing else to the plot other than that. The film begins with Williams and her young son spending what looks like a lot of time together. The point is made that these two love each other dearly and the child is near perfection. We’re then shown how distant and driven the husband character is as he returns home from another day at work to a caring wife and immediately growls at her. This of course leads Williams to cheat on her husband. Literally while she’s cheating on him, the soccer match is on, where her husband and son happen to be, and the stadium is rocked by an explosion. From here, with her husband and son dead, this mother tries to get on with her life and find some answers to this senseless violence.
Playing the mother character who doesn’t get a name, Williams is solid but not spectacular in the lead role. Her pain is felt, yet watching her and the film I never felt the pain like I should have. I would like to think that it’s not just because she was cheating on her husband at the time of his death but that has to have something to do with it. I haven’t yet mentioned that this is a cast of mostly English characters and Williams is playing a English woman in the film. She pulls of the accent to my ear very will although I’m sure someone from the UK can spot some flaws. Aside from not really feeling that bad for the main character, the problem I had with the film is there really isn’t much of a third act. We get the set-up, the low point, and no real revelation or self discovery that’s usually associated with a film of this sort. I didn’t end up feeling hopeful for her, or bad for her, I just felt indifferent about the whole film and that’s a problem. Another issue I had with the film is it sets up the child character as so perfect it’s tough to sympathize with the family. That relationship is almost too idealized and as a result it cuts me off from reality. If there had been something that showed how the family loved each other but it was a struggle and not everything was perfect, it would have been easier for me to relate to. I’ll watch just about anything with Michelle Williams is in these days, but this was was a bit of a disappointment for me.