Saturday, February 23, 2008

Les Invasions Barbares

The Barbarian Invasions is a masterful and moving film written and directed by Denys Arcand. I am sorry that I missed the film when it was released and won the Oscar for best foreign film in 2004. Fortunately a friend recommended it to me and like most films, both good and bad, it is available on DVD and it is eminently worth renting and watching. I was impressed by the craft of the director as well as the acting, particularly of the central son and father, Sebastien and Remy, played respectively by Stephane Rousseau and Remy Girard. Girard, like several of the other actors had participated in Arcand's earlier film, The Decline of the American Empire, which touched on some of the same themes although not as deeply or with such perspicacity.

Barbarians impressed me with its demonstration of ideas more than its discussion of them, which was somewhat superficial. The ability of the son who was the ultimate capitalist and polar opposite of his father, a trenchant socialist intellectual, to put aside years of estrangement was the core of the film for me. His sensitivity to his father's needs and ability to get things done eventually broke down the barriers between them and led to some of the most emotionally powerful scenes in the movie. Yet the film presented complex issues like sex and love and drug addiction in an objective realistic fashion that transcended the normal stereotypes. This film is one that I will return to and think about for a long time.

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