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The Decline of the American Empire (Le Déclin de l'Empire Américain) (1986)


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Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 1
Fresh: 1 | Rotten: 0



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Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 6,171

My Rating

Movie Info

A rousing "he said/she said" endeavor, The Decline of the American Empire begins by separating the boys from the girls. Preparing a gourmet dinner, four male intellectuals begin trading stories of their sexual experiences. At the same time, four well-read women, all working out in a gym, exchange their own tales from the love front. The film is set in the lofty circles of academia, a world well known to Canadian director Denys Arcand. The anecdotes related herein are based on actual events in


Drama, Art House & International, Comedy

Denys Arcand

Oct 5, 2004

Koch Lorber Films

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All Critics (20) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (11) | Rotten (2) | DVD (4)

What Arcand has devised is a kind of Nia Vardalos movie in tenured-faculty clothing: Our Big Fat Bourgeois Salon ... It trades only the crudest ironies and screenwriting mechanics.

July 10, 2011 Full Review Source: Nick's Flick Picks
Nick's Flick Picks

As a movie with a lot of clever talk about sex and love, this is pretty good. As a movie about the decline of the American empire it pales in comparison to the real thing.

October 30, 2008 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

instead of being wickedly funny, it's repellent before becoming a total snore

August 20, 2006 Full Review Source: Cinema Writer
Cinema Writer

Subtle and wittty in discussing sexual politics in the academic world, Denis Arcand's film deservedly won the Oscar for Foreign Film in 1986.

June 14, 2005 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com | Comment (1)

Give Empire credit for giving Woody Allen a run for his money in '86, but its force has all but vanished today.

October 10, 2004 Full Review Source:

Asks all the right questions about the sexual revolution and makes some interesting connections between eros and middle age.

August 26, 2004 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

There's very little plot in Decline of the American Empire...but when the dialogue is this good and the characters this compelling, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

November 30, 2003 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews
Reel Film Reviews

Através de suas conversas casuais (embora com efeitos estudados), os personagens deste filme estabelecem um vivo retrato das relações humanas - especialmente do sexo, claro.

November 7, 2003
Cinema em Cena

Arcand's message might not be the happy, happy, joy, joy we have come to expect from our movies but he does shed some truth, no matter how hard it might be to digest.

July 1, 2003 Full Review Source: Movie Views

Audience Reviews for The Decline of the American Empire (Le Déclin de l'Empire Américain)

Funny and intelligent view of the war between men and women, that grow for a much more hard subjects like: family, death, infidelity and etc.
August 6, 2012
Lucas Martins

Super Reviewer

[font=Century Gothic][color=red]"The Decline of the American Empire" is a Canadian movie directed by Denys Arcand("Jesus of Montreal") about a group of friends who are all members of the intelligentsia in a university. In a gender role reversal, the men prepare the food for dinner, while the women exercise in a gym. While all of this is going on, they discuss their sex lives in graphic detail. [/color][/font]
[font=Century Gothic][color=red][/color][/font]
[font=Century Gothic][color=red]So, while this is an extremely talky movie("Intellectuals like to talk."), [/color][/font][font=Century Gothic][color=#ff0000]"The Decline of the American Empire" is a warm and witty meditation on the pleasures of life - namely, sex, food and friends. [/color][/font]
[font=Century Gothic][color=#ff0000][/color][/font]
[font=Century Gothic][color=#ff0000]Two notes:[/color][/font]
[font=Century Gothic][color=#ff0000][/color][/font]
[font=Century Gothic][color=#ff0000]1. This movie was made in 1986, so it surprised me that there were references to AIDS. I know "An Early Frost" was on television the year before, but I don't think movies had really begun to consider AIDS until at least 1990.[/color][/font]
[font=Century Gothic][color=#ff0000][/color][/font]
[font=Century Gothic][color=#ff0000]2. "The Barbarian Invasions" is a sequel to "Decline of the American Empire" but I don't think it's necessary to see the earlier movie first even though there might be more emotional involvement in the characters when watching "Barbarian Invasions." I saw "Barbarian Invasions" when it was first released a year and a half ago, so I don't think it mattered that much to me but I spent a good deal of "Decline of the American Empire" thinking about how young the characters looked... [/color][/font]
July 18, 2010
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

A sad little film about a group of University professors, their wives, and friends who espouse typical '80s views on sex and love. The men share several boasts about their sexual conquests and the women, in a separate venue, talk about their loves. They come together to share a meal and in the course of conversation a pre-emptive strike is launched. Surprisingly little fallout ensues. The "R" rating must be for the dialog, casual drug use, and sexual situations, certainly not for the brief, partial nudity, although there was plenty of opportunity for more. An interesting character study with an adequate cast. Somewhat cliched story and less than demonstrative emotions. The title derives from an opening interview where a visiting author explains that empires fall when the pursuit of personal happiness replaces sacrifice for the common good as a societal virtue. This viewer supposes the rest of the film is proof of that premise. Good, but not great, by any means.
July 18, 2010
Mark Abell

Super Reviewer

Its like "The Big Chill" in many respects except its in French and the characters have far more interesting things to say. I think the observations on human sexuality made in the film are still pretty accurate, I wasn't a big fan of how they handled the gay character (but then it was 1986, and for that time it was pretty progressive) but overall I still think it works and holds up remarkably well over 20 years later
October 15, 2010
Alec Barniskis

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • The Decline of the American Empire (Le declin de l'empire americain) (DE)
  • The Decline of the American Empire (Le declin de l'empire americain) (UK)
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