Les invasions barbares

Note: this a new series of reviews I'm installing on Le Mot du Cinephiliaque. Since I was born and raised in the Province of Québec I've decided to present and review some of the films that populate my culture and that represents the Cinema of here. The feature will be called after our license plate motto: "Je me souviens" for "I remember".

Les invasions barbares aka The Barbarian Invasions (Denys Arcand, 2003)
The sequel to Arcand's Le déclin de l'empire américain, Les invasions barbares was received as well if not even better by the public and the critics. In 2004, it was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film and the Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards. It won the Oscar for the first category while losing in the second to Sofia Coppola's masterpiece Lost in Translation.

With Le déclin(...) Arcand made his name with a film filled with an ensemble cast of despicable characters of intellectual Baby boomers whining about their live and how they succeed more than one and another. It is also the depiction of the battle of the sex in the 20th Century. In Les invasions barbares, Arcand reunites his superb cast while adding the wealthy son (Stéphane Rousseau) of Rémy (Rémy Girard) who wants to pay for the treatment of his dad dying of cancer a proper end for his life. The point is the social commentary about the public Canadian Health system that piles sick people into small rooms dying without the respect human beings deserve. The film is far from only denouncing social problems in our society, it also depicts a dying man's retrospective on his life by discussing his better and his lesser actions. It is also a meditation on the right to die with pride. The structure of the film is more traditional than Le déclin(...) and it falls more into sentimentality than Arcand usual sarcasm. It might feel as a draw back for Arcand but it is also a side effect of the aging director and the mass appeal that the movie wanted to offer to keep the audience in the Theaters.

Far from being Québec's greatest film or even Arcand's best offering, it was a huge success for Québécois Cinema. I must be honest and admit that I was quite proud to see Denys Arcand and his wife/producer Denise Robert go pick up their Oscars seven years ago. It is sad that since Les invasions barbares, Denys Arcand only made one film: L'âge des ténêbres (2007) that will be reviewed in the happening of Je me souviens.

Rating: Ratings


  1. The popular ones are seldom the greatest ones, but I did still enjoy this one a lot, and I wish he would make more films too. Is he retired now?

    1. I did liked it too. But I think this is far from being his most interesting work... I'm not sure if he's retired it's been five years since his last film. I haven't heard of any new project either... I will search to find if he's working on something lately.


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