In this belated sequel to 'The Decline of the American Empire', 50-something Montreal college professor, Remy, learns that he is dying of liver cancer. He decides to make amends meet to his friends and family before he dies. He first tries to made peace with his ex-wife Louise, who asks their estranged son Sebastian, a successful businessman living in London, to come home. Sebastian makes the impossible happen, using his contacts and disrupting the entire Canadian system in every way possible to help his father fight his terminal illness to the bitter end, while he also tries to reunite his former friends, Pierre, Alain, Dominique, Diane, and Claude to see their old friend before he passes on. Written by
I rented the original film, Decline of the American Empire, before setting out to watch this and I must admit -- it was not very good. In the years since he made it though, Arcand has learned how to direct. Instead of obvious camera setups, there was a precision to what he did here. Instead of the ridiculous tracking shot at the beginning of Decline, Barbarians was in control of the screen at all times. Arcand took the thinnest of reeds -- a man dying -- and made magic out of it.
The story of a child reconciling with a dying parent is older than time. But this movie did it with unique touches of pathos and wit. No character was good or bad. They were both.
This is a movie that was made for family viewing. Not children, mind you. But grownup parents and their progeny. It will leave you with a lot to talk and think about.
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