Barbarian Invasions, The

Reviewed By Greg Muskewitz
Posted 05/13/04 19:43:57

"Rusty hinges."
3 stars (Just Average)

Denys Arcand’s follow-up to The Decline of the American Empire, has the former history professor Rémy (Rémy Girard) dying from cancer, and so his pervy old friends and now-millionaire son gather to reminisce over vulgar anecdotes and theatrically scripted ribald dialogue (“Oh, the rivers of sperm I filled for Inés Orsini”).

The intentions aim for the highbrow, but the execution is rather trivial, simplistic, dull, pretentious. As a whole, the movie and the characters all tend to be off guardly frank; the brutal honesty that they indulge are constructed like saloon doors on a hinge, constantly being walked through and swinging back-and-forth. The monotonous repetition sinks in, the rust sets on the hinges, and the in-and-out nature sets off an annoying creak each time. That doesn’t mean, however, that at times, their demeanor isn’t playfully unexpected, or shockingly upfront, but playing it to that tune non-stop eventually nulls its soundtrack. And on the plus side, is a performance by Girard (vaguely Edward Herrmann-ish), that only until the role requirement absolutely lays it down, does it ask for the sympathetic pathos de rigueur. Stéphane Rousseau (vaguely Guy Pearce-ish) is mildly welcome as an unknown in my books, as is newcomer Marie-Josée Croze (vaguely Linda Fiorentino-ish, ten years younger), who first burst upon the scene this year impressively with Atom Egoyan’s Ararat. With Dorothée Berryman and Louise Portal.

[See it if you must.]

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