Incendies Movie Pool Scene Explained - The Meaning of the Twist

By Klein Felt Posted:
Incendies Ending Pool Scene

Thanks to several recent viral social media posts, fans are looking into Incendies' pool scene twist more than 14 years after the movie debuted. 

Released in 2010 by Dune and Dune: Part Two director Denis Villeneuve, the 2010 French-Canadian drama follows a pair of twins as they unravel their complicated family history following the death of their mother. 

This familial conquest sends the pair across the world, uncovering the twisting web of their parentage as well as the secret behind a brother they never knew they had. All of this comes together during a crashingly conclusive pool scene that still has fans reeling. 

Breaking Down the Indcendies Pool Scene

Nawal Incendies pool scene looking over the edge of the pool
Entertainment One

The Indencies pool scene has become infamous among cinephiles as one of the first in a string of jaw-dropping twist endings that would define director Denis Villeneuve's career. 

The sequence in question is still considered a moment in cinema that haunts audiences to this day despite the movie having come out more than a decade ago. 

Serving as the culminating point in the French-Canadian drama, the pool sequence takes audiences back in time during one of the movie's many flashbacks. 

As the film's central set of twins, Jeanne and Simon, learn more about their immigrant mother's family history after her death, major revelations come to the forefront.

Up to that point, Indencies focused on the twins' quest to deliver a pair of letters as their mother's dying wish - one to their long-thought-dead father and the other to a secret older brother they never knew they had. 

Incendies pool scene looking at the ankle on pool's edge
Entertainment One

The entire movie's story comes to a head in this notorious pool sequence. Following their mother Nawal's immigration to Canada, the scene picks up years later with Nawal going for a swim in a crowded public pool. 

Floating along, Jeanne and Simon's mother stops for a rest at the edge of the pool only to find a man standing close by with a small tattoo on his ankle. 

She immediately looks distraught, as this tattoo was revealed earlier in the film to have belonged to the man who raped Nawal in a wartime prison while living in the Middle East (aka the twins' father).

Incendies ankle tattoo
Entertainment One

She climbs out of the pool as the scene is intercut with Jeanne and Simon in the present-day realizing that they have not been looking for two people (their brother and thought to be dead father) this whole time, but one.

In the flashback, the fellow swimmer on the pool's edge turns around, showing the face of a man who was thought to be Jeanne and Simon's older brother Nihad (the product of a prior relationship between Nawal and another man). 

Incendies pool scene Nihad reveal
Entertainment One

Audiences grapple with this information as the twins do. The man who raped the pair of siblings' mother all those years ago (their father) was also their half-brother living in Canada.

That means the letters the pair have been tasked with delivering as their mother's last will and testament were to the same person. 

The movie ends with the twins realizing they did not need to travel halfway around the world after all, and that the intended recipient of the two letters was back in their home country of Canada. 

They head back home, tracking down Nihad (the man seen by the pool) and giving him the two letters. 

He opens them both with the one addressed to Nawal's assailant and the father of her twins being full of hate-fueled remarks and contempt for the man, while the other, addressed to her son, is filled with compassion and love for her estranged child. 

Nihad spirals learning who the twins are, chasing after them to no avail. 

The last thing fans see in the movie is Nawal finally getting her gravestone which Nihad stops by to visit bringing to a close this complicated family drama. 

Incendies is streaming now on Mubi. 

- About The Author: Klein Felt
Klein Felt is a Senior Editor at The Direct. Joining the website back in 2020, he helped jumpstart video game content on The Direct. Klein plays a vital role as a part of the site's content team, demonstrating expertise in all things PlayStation, Marvel, and the greater entertainment industry.