peteg's blog - noise - movies - 2021 12 03 TheBarbarianInvasions

The Barbarian Invasions

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A David Stratton recommendation from back in his SBS days (2003). A French-Canadian love letter to voluntary assisted dying. A sequel to The Decline of the American Empire. It won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2004.

The first movement is pretty good, especially as old-school rake Rémy Girard gets grilled by (one of?) his most-recent conquests, promising a hard edge that is unfortunately quickly blunted by a sentimentality that rapidly dominates. Stéphane Rousseau is perfectly cast as the bland son who somehow discovers the motivation to produce the perfect exit for his estranged father. Fiance Marina Hands is a bit flatter, a bit wannabe Audrey Tatou without the zany. The gestures at the twentieth-century continental philosophers felt vacuous, the redemption unearned. The moral appeared to be that money can solve everything, even in socialist Canada.

Widely reviewed at the time. Roger Ebert tells me that junkie Marie-Josée Croze won a best actress gong at Cannes 2003 for her efforts here. (While it wasn't Trainspotting she was the best of the actresses. I didn't understand why she had to administer the fatal dose.) The witchy nun who suggested the heroin was good throughout. A. O. Scott. Peter Travers: yes, the kiss at the end is electric.