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Review byMatthew Turner17/10/2008

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 99 mins

Michelle Williams delivers an outstanding performance and a note-perfect English accent, but Incendiary is ultimately let down by some poor direction and an unconvincing, occasionally risible script.

What's it all about?
Directed by Sharon Maguire (Bridget Jones), Incendiary is based on a novel by Chris Cleave and stars Michelle Williams as an unnamed young woman who lives with her young son (Sidney Johnston) and her bomb disposal expert husband (Nicholas Greaves) in an ugly tower block that overlooks a beautiful Georgian square. Bored and lonely, she starts an illicit affair with her affluent neighbour, tabloid journalist Jasper (Ewan McGregor), but the affair is brought to an abrupt conclusion when a terrorist attack on a nearby football stadium kills her husband and son (not least because she was having sex with Jasper with the game on TV in the background at the exact moment of the attack).

Traumatised by guilt and pursued by her husband's mildly creepy colleague (Matthew Macfadyen), the woman slowly begins to crack up. Soon, she's befriending the young son of one of the terror suspects, but her motives remain unclear.

The Good
Despite the film’s flaws, Michelle Williams is terrific in the central role, delivering a note-perfect English accent and imbuing her character with a heart-breaking vulnerability that makes you want to give her a hug.

The Bad
The main problem with the film is its deeply unconvincing script, which is riddled with bad dialogue and poorly drawn characters - McGregor's Jasper, for example, doesn't seem like a real person at all, while McFadyen is boring, creepy and deeply unappealing as Terrence. The script also veers wildly between pretentiousness, irritating plot twists and outright stupidity, most notably during a sequence involving a chase through Liverpool Street station.

Maguire's direction doesn't help matters either, as it's increasingly apparent that the film doesn't know what it wants to be – is it a thriller? A study in depression and mental illness? A bereavement drama?

Worth seeing?
Incendiary is just about worth seeing for Michelle Williams' performance, but the film is ultimately let down by a disappointing script and poor direction.

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Content updated: 22/01/2020 01:18

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