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The Barbarian Invasions (2003)

Cast: Rémy Girard, Rémy Girard, Stéphane Rousseau, more...
Director: Denys Arcand, Denys Arcand
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Studio: Miramax
Genre: Foreign, Canada
Running Time: 99 min.
Languages: French
Subtitles: English
    see additional details...

Director Denys Arcand revisits the situations and relationships that informed his international breakthrough The Decline of the American Empire with this dialogue-driven character study. Set 17 years after Decline, The Barbarian Invasions, like its predecessor, examines the varying politics -- economic, personal, and sexual -- at play among an aging group of friends, lovers, and ex-spouses. This time around, leads Remy (Rémy Girard) and Louise (Dorothee Berryman) are divorced, with their son Sebastien (Stéphane Rousseau) living in capitalist splendor in London. But the slightly estranged family is brought together by Remy's losing battle with terminal cancer, and the hedonistic, ex-radical father and straight-laced son have to overcome their differences. Along the way, Remy waxes nostalgic with many of the same pals who made up the dinner party of the first film. ~ Michael Hastings, All Movie Guide

Special Features:

  • Inside The Barbarian Invasions

Eclection Selection: With The Barbarian Invasions, winner of the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, Denys Arcand returns to his intertwined ensemble of academic friends in Montreal we last saw chattering, laughing and bickering in The Decline of the American Empire, an earlier Eclection selection.

A good decade and a half plus change has passed and our once sexually active, left-leaning Canadian bobos have grown a bit plumper, a bit grayer and a lot less cocksure of themselves. "Was there an 'ism' we didn't worship?" asks one, and in the wake of 9/11, overtly referred to in the film and in its consciously daring title, the question takes on all the more poignancy for its recognition that all true believers of all stripes aren't cute anymore; they've become genuine and immediate threats.

As if the sudden looming of these dark clouds weren't enough, our friends, already fretting over what they'll be leaving behind in the world when their time's up, can't relate to their own kids. "The children of the 1960's, who rebelled so dramatically against their own parents, receive their comeuppance when their children turn out to be materialistic, politically conservative and sexually restrained. Ironic, no?" asked A.O. Scott in the New York Times.

"Yes, of course. But what makes The Barbarian Invasions much more than a facile exercise in generational conflict is that Denys Arcand, who wrote and directed it, has a sense of history that is as acute as it is playful." -- David Hudson

GreenCine Member Reviews

faux intellectualism by thomasadam August 26, 2004 - 1:31 PM PDT
2 out of 5 members found this review helpful
I saw this film in the theatre, and i walked out. This has not happened to me in recent memory. It is hard to express how much I hated every aspect of this movie. I am utterly appalled that this won an academy award. There is literally no justice in this world. As one review which was posted indicates, this movie is fake. Fake as hell.
Now I have not seen any of Arcand's other films, but the subject matter seemed interesting. I have a soft spot for John Sayles' Return of the Secaucus Seven, which has some similar themes.
Barbarian Invasions is the story of a bunch of twisted old oversexed, annoying, pretentious, phony, selfish scum. I hated every character with a passion. I found the political and social sentiments of the film to be profoundly reactionary(particularly the silly criticism of socialized medicine and unions)
But the most awfull part of this garbage film is that it is fake fake fake. Nothing that happens in this "slice of life" film is reven remotely believable. People do not act like this in real life. It is true that intellectuals can be self absorbed and petty and oversexed, but not like this.
There is a horrible scene in which the characters reflect on their meaningless lives and how they used to follow every intellectual trend (marxism, freudianism, structuralism, post structuralism etc.)
and the horrid thing about it all is that you know these people have no idea what they are talking about. It makes me wonder if the filmmaker is not a faux intellectual himself, one who thinks he can make people sound smart because his film mentions Deconstruction.
And need I get into the whole ridiculous heroin subplot? Pure idiocy.
I have read numerous positive reviews of this film and not one has made a lick of sense, I hope you take my words to heart and hate this movie with a white hot intensity.

A dissenting opinion by talltale July 19, 2004 - 4:17 PM PDT
3 out of 6 members found this review helpful
As a huge fan of writer/director Denys Arcand's "Decline of the American Empire" and particularly "Stardom," his latest--THE BARBARIAN INVASIONS--is an enormous disappointment. It's hard to believe that there was not a much better and much more original foreign film to choose for this past year's Oscar winner. Cliche-ridden and obvious (although it does ring some changes on those cliches from time to time), the film never takes off--except in the most typical, tear-jerking manner. Some of the performances are quite good, and these alone may carry you along. From the rather crass onset, however, there is a nagging sense that this situation is forced--even fake--and the sense of clever fakery piles up as the film proceeds. If you found this one fabulous (as have some of my friends), then perhaps this director's earlier works will not appeal. But they are a LOT more original and sharply etched than this terminal soap-opera.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.92)
88 Votes
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Cannes Film Festival & More - 2003
Official Selection, Certain Regards... and more. Here is a bit more information on the films screened at the Cannes. I have attempted to list all the films that were considered for an award as well as any special screenings.
Past Foreign Film Oscar Winners
These are all the Foreign Language Oscar winners available on DVD, with my particular favorites so noted. The award has been given out annually since 1947. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll see how universal it is to sigh. Updated frequently.

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