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The Decline of the American Empire (1986)

Le déclin de l'empire américain (original title)
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Sexual revelations emerge when a group of academics and their partners spend a weekend at a country retreat.

Director:

Denys Arcand

Writers:

Denys Arcand, Gabriel Arcand (collaborating writer) | 6 more credits »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 13 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Dominique Michel ... Dominique St. Arnaud
Dorothée Berryman ... Louise
Louise Portal ... Diane Leonard
Pierre Curzi ... Pierre
Rémy Girard ... Rémy
Yves Jacques ... Claude
Geneviève Rioux ... Danielle
Daniel Brière ... Alain
Gabriel Arcand ... Mario
Évelyn Regimbald ... Theresa
Lisette Guertin Lisette Guertin
Alexandre Remy Alexandre Remy ... Transvestite
Ariane Frédérique Ariane Frédérique
Jean-Paul Bongo Jean-Paul Bongo ... Mustafa
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Storyline

A group of academics at the University of Montreal - most long time friends - are planning on gathering at the lakeside recreational home of Rémy and Louise, who have been together for twenty years, married for fifteen of them, for dinner. Louise knows Rémy cheats on her, but believes he only does so when she is not around, about which she accepts. Their recreational home is adjacent to many of the recreational homes of the others, who are: divorced Pierre, his much younger current girlfriend Danielle who is a student at the university, the two who are still in the stage of newfound love, divorced mother Diane, independent minded Dominique, single homosexual Claude, and graduate student Alain. While the four men prepare the dinner, the four women are working out together in the gym. The common factor between the two groups is the topic of conversation: sex, especially as it relates to themselves. But underlying each of the conversations is their own academic and thus intellectual ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

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

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Canada

Language:

French | English

Release Date:

14 November 1986 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Decline of the American Empire See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

CAD1,800,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$1,902,706

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,915,792
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

French visa # 64263 delivered on 5-2-1987. See more »


Soundtracks

Music themes
by George Frideric Handel.
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User Reviews

 
Man's propensity for self deception is unquenchable
15 June 2017 | by AlsExGalSee all my reviews

This is a very well done French-Canadian film about eight friends meeting for a dinner party out in the country. Three middle-aged men and a one young man are already at the manor where the dinner will take place, preparing the meal and discussing their sex lives. The remaining party guests, three middle-aged women and one young woman, are spending the day at the gym, exercising and discussing their sex lives.

Eventually they meet up at the country manor for dinner, and the conversation continues. While this may sound like not much happens, the film is never boring, and the direction by Denys Arcand keeps the viewer visually interested. I'm also keeping the character descriptions purposely vague, as their relationships to one another are revealed slowly as the film progresses. The dialogue is frank, funny and sharp, and all eight characters are fully-drawn human beings. I especially like the notion that these eight characters who seem to speak non-stop and at times overshare in the extreme, can't seem to honestly communicate when it matters most in their lives.

The title refers to a historical adage that when members of a given society begin to think about their own individual happiness above every other concern, that society is doomed. The characters' romantic navel-gazing and at times destructive pursuit of happiness seems to signal our own societal sunset. But don't let that heavy thought steer you away from the film, as it's brilliantly acted and well worth a look.

The sequel, "The Barbarian Invasions", made 17 years later, is also very worthwhile.


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