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The Barbarian Invasions

A provocative new comedy about sex, friendship, and all other things that invade our lives.  

Year: 2003 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 18 Cert – Not suitable for under 18s 
Subtitles: It is expected that this film is fully subtitled. 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  
An image from The Barbarian Invasions

Les Invasions Barbares (The Barbarian Invasions) follows the story of Rémy (Girard), a History professor who has dedicated his life to wine, women and left-wing causes. Now in his 50s, he has been hospitalised and faces certain death from cancer. Alone with no family or friends, Rémy is left with the painkiller morphine as ineffective company.

His wife, Louise, (Berryman) divorced him because of his womanising and his merchant banker son, Sébastien (Rousseau) left him in anger, following Rémy's break up of the family home. Nevertheless, Sébastien is prevailed upon to return to Rémy's bedside, and the slow process of reconciliation begins. Their first meeting goes badly; it is a replay of Rémy's socialist rejection of Sébastien's values and his "worthless" job. But Sébastien has learnt how to get things done and goes about making arrangements and reassembling Rémy's old friends, and lovers...

Les Invasions Barbares (The Barbarian Invasions) is Arcand's sequel to The Decline of The American Empire, a dinner-party comedy of sexual manners, and features many of the same characters. It won the Best Foreign Language Film award at the 2004 Oscars, and Best Actress at Cannes 2003 for Croze, as Nathalie, a drug addict who Sébastien involves, when he finds out that heroin would do a better job of easing Rémy's pain than morphine.

Les Invasions Barbares is a class example of intelligent and poignant cinema; at times bleak, at others funny. The way in which Arcand uses the device of fading to black between scenes suggests the imminence of death, but completes the film with humorous vehicles such as irony and self-mockery. All together, this is a film not to be missed!

Alex Coe

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Screenings of this film:

2004/2005 Autumn Term (35mm)