The Barbarian Invasions (Les Invasions Barbares)
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London investor Sebastien (Stephane Rousseau) is summoned home to Quebec by his mother, Louise (Dorothee Berryman) to attend the approaching death of his father, Remy (Remy Girard). Father and son have been long estranged - ever since Remy and Louise divorced. Remy, an outspoken Professor of History and a self-described "sensuous socialist", has spent his life indulging in wine, women, song, and learned conversation. Especially women. The reunion shows little promise of succeeding, especially after a stormy shouting match in Remy's bleak hospital room that leaves the audience facetiously asking, "That went well, don't you think?" But, after Louise reminds her son of a paternal love long forgotten, then filial duty and guilt compel Sebastien to use his considerable wealth to arrange an easier transition for Old Dad by improving the conditions of his hospitalization, and to gather around his treasured friends, colleagues, and mistresses.
The "star" is Remy, who, at the end of his life, contemplates and comes to accept the final sum of it. This exercise would be thought-provoking enough in itself, but writer/director Denys Arcand also interweaves into the plot such prickly subjects as socialized medicine, euthanasia, and the use of illegal drugs to ease terminal medical conditions.Read more ›
In this movie, the Fall of the American Empire is represented by the WTC attack, but the bulk of the movie is not concerned with the United States but with Quebec. In this, Rémy (Rémy Girard), the history professor with a high libido, is dying of cancer and his previous relationships give him no solace. Everyone from Déclin comes back to support him in his hard times, including his estrangled son Sébastien (Stéphane Rousseau, a humourist who plays this serious role with great talent). He's become a resourceful and prosperous man of finance, and uses his money to bribe hospital officials to give his father his own floor, and dips his toe in the underworld to get heroin to alleviate his father's pain.
Rémy admits that his life has been rather pointless, and that the social utopia proposed by Québecois intellectuals has failed. This point is reinforced by the dingy and corrupt (but unfortunately realistic) portrayal of the health care system in Québec, and the failure of the War on Drugs. The movie is far from being all drama : a commentator noted that it was not as much about death as it was about life.Read more ›
A man on his death bed, Remy, invites all his friends and family hoping in such a reunion to pass on his pearls of wisdom, and to reconcile all that has remained undone or that shouldn't have been done.
Woven around this seemingly simple frame are many relationships, all explored richly and with fluid rhythm, and some fabulous dialogue veering around insightful ideologies.
For instance, Remy and his son wage what seems to be a lifelong argument, the young man defending his free-market values, faith in technological progress and ascetic lifestyle, and Remy extolling the virtues of socialism and epicurean excess. I was surprised to see some footage of 9/11 in support for the negatives that accompany American-style capitalism.
The title of the film may derive from the bloody history of mankind and all the 'isms' that we've dabbled in (marxism, leninism, etc) -- all of which are talked about in a pseudo-intellectual but riveting manner among these friends -- but there is an unmistakable undercurrent of the ultimate barbaric invasion: time, which wastes us without answering the questions of our intellect and spirit. Remy concedes in anguish at one point, "I haven't found a meaning. I have to keep searching".
The mood is not always this despondent though, it shifts effortlessly between defiant exuberance and wistful contemplation without ever being mawkish.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The Barbarian Invasions is an interesting and low-key family drama. The film is about contrasts and has quite a mix of characters. Read morePublished 4 months ago by rbrogan3
This film covered a wide range of topics and did so with good acting and writing. I found it by accident and enjoyed everything about it.Published 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
If I could get less than one star, I would. The main character is a fat, greasy man with a foul mouth, which all his family hates, yet somehow all the women in the world adore. Read morePublished 9 months ago by lenrob
Explores life and end of life choices... I really enjoyed this movie. It's uplifting without being preachy.Published 16 months ago by Gramps36
a fantastic movie - honest, funny at times and has great integrity. Totally recommend. especially liked the choice not to repeat boring predictable plot lines. Read morePublished 17 months ago by coeli
A pure chef d'oeuvre. Advanced knowledge of French language spoken in Quebec is a must as to fully enjoy this Academy Award and Cesar (Cannes Film Festival) winning movie.Published 18 months ago by Healthcare
once again these Amazon conned me into purchasing a movie in a different language that was not identified as such and I would have to read all the words at the bottom which I'm not... Read morePublished 19 months ago by JMG
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