Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr Viber
Trending On Empire
The Big 2015 Movie Preview
The 50 Best Films Of 2014
Review Of The Year 2014
Subscribe to Empire!
Save up to 63%
Halo 5 Guardians
The Master Chief returns
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

Remy Girard
Stephane Rousseau
Marie-Josee Croze
Marina Hands.
Denys Arcand.
Denys Arcand.
Running Time
98 minutes

4 Star Empire Rating
2 Star Empire Rating
2 Star Empire Rating
Intern, The
3 Star Empire Rating
Nightmare, The
3 Star Empire Rating

5 Star Empire Rating
Man With A Movie Camera
5 Star Empire Rating
Salt Of The Earth, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Song Of The Sea
5 Star Empire Rating
Look Of Silence, The
5 Star Empire Rating

The Barbarian Invasions
Denys Arcand's discursive and urbanely sour sequel to The Decline Of The American Empire (1986).

submit to reddit

A London-based financier (Rousseau) returns to Québec and uses his wealth and wiles to help alleviate his estranged father's (Girard) terminal cancer by arranging for alternative healthcare and assembling his former academic comrades for a last dig at life, love and a world changing for the worse.

Denys Arcand is easily Québec's most vaunted filmmaker, and this discursive and urbanely sour sequel to The Decline Of The American Empire (1986) will reinforce this deserved reputation. However, this 16-year reunion of a bunch of one-time politico-cultural radicals and sexual free spirits bears all the superficial sophistication of the pseudo-intellectualising chic that has caused so many critics to dismiss French director Claude Lelouch as a middlebrow phoney.

There's much to amuse and concur with in expiring professor Rémy Girard's grumpy asides on the sad devaluation of knowledge, individualism and taste. But Arcand's satirical swipes at bureaucratic ineptitude, union corruption, US imperialism and impersonal modes of communication are surprisingly clumsy. As is much of the plotting, with many incidents feeling artificial because Arcand has failed to make eminently worthwhile points with sufficient conviction.

The structure similarly misses the flashbacking subtlety of the original. Even the characterisation lacks depth, with the reassembled buddies restricted to glib bon mots, while Rousseau's yuppified son and playpal-turned-junkie Croze seem more like plot devices than people - hence the hollow clang of the conclusion.

So many fascinating ideas are raised here that Arcand's decision to explore them within the context of a self-satisfied soap is disappointing.

Reviewed by Patrick Peters

Related Reviews

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Denis Villeneuve Talks Sicario
On his cartel thriller and the upcoming Blade Runner sequel

Tomorrowland: The Viewing Guide
Brad Bird talks through his sci-fi adventure, scene by scene

Empire Meets Ridley Scott
The great director on The Martian, Blade Runner 2 and the Prometheus sequels

My Movie Life: Justin Kurzel
The Macbeth director on how Rocky changed his life and the worst ever date movie

Life On Mars: Trips To The Red Planet
A dozen of cinema's Martian misadventures

All Hail Macbeth! The Scottish Play On Film
By the pricking of our thumbs, ten adaptations this way come(s)

10 Star Wars: The Force Awakens Toys You’ll Want To Own
Falcon quad copter? BB-8 Sphero? We’re already asking for pay raises…

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Empire print magazine

Delivered to your door – with exclusive subscriber only covers each month! Save money today and

Subscribe now!

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Empire digital magazine

Exclusive and enhanced content – get instant access via your iPad or Android device! Save money today and

Subscribe now!

Subscribe now and save up to 63%
Print, Digital & Package options available Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire Digital Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  Digital Edition  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)