I’m new to Denys Arcand, having just seen “The Fall of the American Empire” at Burns Court. The film was stimulating enough that I’ll check out his earlier work.
I’ll probably start with the Academy Award winner from 2003 “The Barbarian Invasion” (which won the Oscar for best foreign film in 2003), but I’m also intrigued with “The Decline of the American Empire” from 1986 referred to as the French’s Big Chill which won accolades at Cannes.
So, I’m assuming, given his movie titles, Arcand has a bit of a fixation about the United States and from “The Fall of the American Empire” I assume he sees us (or U.S. in this case) as the ne’er do well older brother who has corrupted their (Canadian) morals.
If Arcand movie is based at all in reality, Canada seems to be a mess; rampant homelessness, political and police collusion, gang warfare and an overall ennui. And much like Wall Street, the movie seems to be chagrin about wealth and that if greed’s not at least good, then it sure gets you out of legal problems.
I did not appreciate the gratuitous violence (two really graphic scenes), and I was also offended about his racist take on African Americans. Perhaps Arcand justifies this due to his sympathy for indigenous people and for homeless, but two rights don’t make a wrong in my book.
The film’s other cliche was the whore with the heart of gold (played by the gorgeous Marpier Morin), but again, Arcand balances this by having an intelligent male who becomes the Robin Hood hero (well acted by Alexandre Landry) and a sly old ex-con (played by Remy Girard) in a plot that is super complex. Again, Arcand seems to be half Woke, or to sound more grammatically correct half awake. one thing’s for certain, he holds no favor for politicians or the police.
To compare another French film of recent viewing, “The Fall of the American Empire” is far better even with its flaws, than the fluff of “Non-Fiction”.