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The Decline of the American Empire (1986)
"Le déclin de l'empire américain" (original title)

R  |   |  Comedy, Drama  |  November 1986 (USA)
7.3
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 5,693 users  
Reviews: 32 user | 27 critic

Sexual revelations emerge when a group of academics and their partners spend a weekend at a country retreat.

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 13 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Dominique Michel ...
Dorothée Berryman ...
Louise
...
Diane Leonard
Pierre Curzi ...
Pierre
...
...
Claude
Geneviève Rioux ...
Danielle
...
Alain
...
Mario
Évelyn Regimbald ...
Theresa
Lisette Guertin
Alexandre Remy
Ariane Frédérique
Jean-Paul Bongo ...
Transvestite
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Storyline

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 Mattias Thuresson

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

sex | dinner | university | gym | weekend | See All (71) »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

November 1986 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Decline of the American Empire  »

Box Office

Budget:

CAD 1,800,000 (estimated)

Gross:

CAD 2,200,000 (Canada)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The house in which the majority of the events take place, in Magog, burned down in 1989, was later rebuilt. The scene in which one of the women characters is having sex, seen through a window from outside, was actually shot through a garage window. The actress was sitting on the snow tires which the owner of the house stored in the garage. She told him that, thanks to the tires, it was one of the most comfortable scenes she had ever done. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Left-Hand Side of the Fridge (2000) See more »

Soundtracks

Music themes
by George Frideric Handel.
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User Reviews

 
A classic of Canadian cinema
24 April 2014 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

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.

8/10


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