Review by: Graeme Kay | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Deleted scenes; Denys Arcand interview;
Theatrical trailer; The Decline of the American Empire trailer;
Cast and crew filmographies.
DENYS Arcand's follow up to The Decline of the American Empire,
released to great acclaim in 1986, is a disappointment to say
In Barbarian Invasions, Remy (Remy Giraud), the lecherous central
character of the earlier film, is nearing death from cancer at
his Montreal home.
His son, Sebastien (Stephane Rousseau), is now a successful merchant
banker, who believes that anything can be bought and that anything
that can't is not worth having.
Thus, he uses his wealth to bribe union officials to allow him
to arrange for a private ward to be opened purely for the convenience
of his father.
Later on, equally compassionately, he employs a junkie to administer
heroin to his dying father. Of course, he couldn't do it himself,
as that would be vulgar.
Meanwhile, Remy's family, friends and current and former mistresses
gather around his death bed, where they greet his every pretentious,
self-important utterance about life, love and death as if they
were the words of the Buddha himself.
Without an exception these hangers-on are a shallow, mean-spirited
bunch of bourgeoise no-counts, who mistake philosophical declamation
for conversation and obsequiousness for love.
Their self-obsession is matched only by their cynical contempt
and disregard for anyone who is not part of their world.
And yet, incredibly, Arcand seems to think that we should find
these despicable cretins likeable, even though it is obvious that
they and the object of their adoration, Remy, have spent their
entire lives doing little else than abusing others for their own
Of course, there will be some people who will like this film
- think merchant bankers, think burnt-out academics, think film-critics
who should know better, think any of the characters in a Joanne
Trollope novel - but, for the majority, there is nothing here
It is totally void of any emotional or human content. With any
luck it will be such a flop that Arcand will never direct again.