Set in a dreary urban landscape of an anonymous Canadian city, LOVE AND HUMAN REMAINS is a dark comedy about a group of twentysomethings looking for love and meaning in the '90s. The film ... See full summary »
Young Leo Lauzon is torn between two worlds - the squalid Montreal tenement that he inhabits with his severely dysfunctional (and largely insane) family, and the imaginative world that he ... See full summary »
Ovide Plouffe has married Rita. She still tries to attract other men even after their marriage. Unhappy Ovide feels for Marie - a young French woman he had met. But his catholic background ... See full summary »
Marcel, recently released from prison, attempt to rebuild his relationship with his girlfriend Julie (now a prostitute) and especially his father Albert (who thinks he's been away on a long... See full summary »
Four very different Montreal university teachers gather at a rambling country house to prepare a dinner. Remy (married), Claude (a homosexual), Pierre (involved with a girlfriend) and Alain (a bachelor) discuss sex, the female body and their affairs with them. Meanwhile, their four female guests, Louise (Remy's wife of 15 years), Dominique (a spinster), Diane (a divorcée) and Danielle (Pierre's girlfriend) are spending the time at a downtown health gym. They also discuss sex, the female body and, naturally, men. Later in the evening, they finally meet at the country house and have dinner. The discussion? Well, you can guess it... However, a ninth guest, named Mario, who used to know Diane, drops in on the group for some talk and has a surprise of his own. Written by
From The Lady Eve to Groundhog Day, the battle of the sexes is a recurrent theme in much cinema. In Denys Arcand's 1986 film The Decline of the American Empire, the showdown takes place over a fall weekend in Quebec cottage country among a group of academics. The film is a witty and sardonic look at sex and relationships in the modern age, and along with a handful of other French-Canadian films (Mon Oncle Antoine, C.R.A.Z.Y.) makes a solid argument for Quebec as the leading exponent of quality cinema in Canada.
Decline... commences with parallel groups of four men and four women as they prepare dinner at the cottage and work out at the gymnasium, respectively. The characters are either professors in the history at the Universite De Montreal or their lovers, and their conversations are dominated by talk of sex, sex and more sex. Though initially the segregated groups of men and women have quite gendered conversations on the subject, their eventual coming together over dinner causes things to heat up and tensions to rise.
A troupe of veteran Quebecois actors give indelible and utterly believable performances as the eight lead characters, special praise going to actor Remy Girard as the lovable scoundrel of the same first name. The cinematography of Arcand and DOP Guy Du Faux is also quite good, functional yet also achieving a subtle lyricism in parts. More than anything, however, the film should be noted for its script, Arcand possessing a preternatural skill for witty dialogue which makes the film enjoyable and engrossing throughout.
In conclusion, The Decline of the American Empire is a smart and funny comedy/drama which offers a glimpse into the lives of intellectuals and their bedroom matters. The film is a must-see for fans of Woody Allen and Whit Stillman, covering similar territory to these filmmakers while also offering a flavour that is uniquely French-Canadian. The Empire may be in decline, but so long as films this good are being made we should be fine.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?