Sundance BuzzCheck: Michelle Williams' eerie "Incendiary"

Incendiarymichellewilliams_lMichelle Williams’ performance as a grieving wife in the Sundance drama Incendiary (pictured) was already intensely poignant, but by Tuesday afternoon, as word of Heath Ledger’s death spread across Park City, it took on an eerie new meaning for those who’d seen it. In the film, Williams — Ledger’s real-life ex and mother of their young daughter, Matilda — plays a woman who loses her husband and child in a London terrorist attack.

The screening I went to on Monday seemed to spark a lot of interest (spotted in the audience were Christine Vachon, Ron Yerxa, Albert Berger, and Elvis Mitchell); afterward, I spoke with director Sharon Maguire (Bridget Jones’s Diary) about how people who have lost someone in their lives could really connect with what Williams’ character was going through. "Somehow we always tend to talk about grief in the abstract. Her very point is to make people understand that it’s not in the abstract. It’s a very real thing."

Maguire added that the death of her father at the age of 18 was a source of inspiration. "I grew up Catholic…and I was caught up in that whole dichotomy of like, ‘He’s gone somewhere better, but his cardigan is still hanging up in the bathroom and I can smell it. Is he in heaven? Is there a heaven? He’s not coming back, I know that much.’ Death is very final."

When celebrities die in heartbreaking circumstances, people who don’t care for Hollywood say things like, "Who cares, we lose people every day and nobody makes a fuss about them." ‘Tis true. But we don’t know everybody — or at least it’s impossible to feel like we do in the same vein that a spectacular performance makes us feel connected to an actor. Incendiary is a film about recovering from a tragic loss, and with that, our thoughts go out to Williams, their daughter, friends, family — and just anybody who felt like they knew Ledger.

(Williams was not scheduled to be in Park City, according to the film’s publicist; on Wednesday she arrived in Brooklyn, at the home she once shared with Ledger.)

Comments (10 total) Add your comment
  • Snarf

    Strange how life almost imitates art sometimes.

  • beth8i8

    My heart goes out to Michelle and Matilda.

  • Ceballos

    Very nice and eloquent post. I enjoyed the way you talked about how people that never met Heath Ledger in their life (and will never meet other celebrities) felt connected to him.
    Slightl off topic, but “The screening I went to on Monday seemed to spark a lot of interest (spotted in the audience were Christine Vachon, Ron Yerxa, Albert Berger, and Elvis Mitchell)”
    I like to consider myself fairly knowledgeable as to who entertainment related people are, but can anyone tell me who the heck these people are? (without Google). I’m curious because you were talking like we should know who they are, and I’m curious by nature.

  • Celimene

    Elvis Mitchell is a film critic for the NY Times. The other names sound vaguely familiar as well, likely in the field of film criticism.

  • David

    Who the h*ll are Christine Vachon, Ron Yerxa, Albert Berger, and Elvis Mitchell?!?!?! hehehe

  • Ceballos

    Thanks Celimene

  • jaime

    Oh wow now i am very interested in watching this movie. I hope its another oscar worthy performance. I’ve always been a fan of hers (even during Dawsons Creek)
    My heart goes out to her and her daughter God knows its going to be difficult for her in the times ahead.

  • sdr

    christine vachon is a producer- i think she wrote a book a year or two ago on getting independent films financed. think she worked on ‘far from heaven’.

  • me

    Christine Vachon is a producer, correct. Worked on Velvet Goldmine, Far from Heaven – maybe Safe as well??? Has worked with Todd Haynes quite a bit as you can tell. All without Google. No idea what she’s doing these days.

  • qdbtr vlei

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