The Barbarian Invasions (Les Invasions barbares) (2003)



Critic Consensus: A moving and heart-felt film from director Denys Arcand.

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Movie Info

Director Denys Arcand revisits the situations and relationships that informed his international breakthrough The Decline of the American Empire with this dialogue-driven character study. Set 17 years after Decline, The Barbarian Invasions, like its predecessor, examines the varying politics -- economic, personal, and sexual -- at play among an aging group of friends, lovers, and ex-spouses. This time around, leads Remy (Rémy Girard) and Louise (Dorothee Berryman) are divorced, with their son Sebastien (Stéphane Rousseau) living in capitalist splendor in London. But the slightly estranged family is brought together by Remy's losing battle with terminal cancer, and the hedonistic, ex-radical father and straight-laced son have to overcome their differences. Along the way, Remy waxes nostalgic with many of the same pals who made up the dinner party of the first film. ~ Michael Hastings, Rovi
R (for language, sexual dialogue and drug content)
Art House & International , Comedy , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:

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Stéphane Rousseau
as Sébastien
Dominique Michel
as Dominique
Yves Jacques
as Claude
Pierre Curzi
as Pierre
Marina Hands
as Gaelle
Toni Cecchinato
as Alessandro
Mitsou Gelinas
as Ghislaine
Sophie Lorain
as First Lover
Johanne-Marie Tremblay
as Sister Constance
Denis Bouchard
as Duhamel
Micheline Lanctôt
as Nurse Carole
Markita Boies
as Nurse Suzanne
Isabelle Blais
as Sylvaine
Sylvie Drapeau
as Second Lover
Denys Arcand
as Unionist
Daniel Brière
as Alain Lussier
Roy Dupuis
as Gilles Levac
Macha Grenon
as Arielle
Gaston Lepage
as Security Guard
Sean Lu
as Pharmacist
Bonnie Mak
as Nurse
Jean-Marc Parent
as Ronald the Syndicalist
Lise Roy
as Mme. Joncas-Pelletier
Anna-Marie Sutherland
as Bulgarian Nurse
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Critic Reviews for The Barbarian Invasions (Les Invasions barbares)

All Critics (130) | Top Critics (38)

Despite an uneven cast, Arcand finds a tonal balance between sentimental and cynical that keeps the conversations real and heart wrenching.

Full Review… | March 23, 2010
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

A full-bodied, funny and gloriously unpretentious ode to family, friendship and the meaning of life.

Full Review… | August 6, 2008
Top Critic

Both the comedy and the weepy moments tend towards the trite, but the film is directed and performed with such brio and manipulative skill that one eventually succumbs to its somewhat dubious charms.

Full Review… | January 25, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

A nicely balanced blend of sentiment and acrid wit.

April 21, 2004
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic

Arcand avoids the temptation of turning the story into a tear-jerker.

Full Review… | January 15, 2004
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic

If you haven't seen the original, which, if memory serves, was billed as 'The Big Chill with a doctorate,' no worries. Arcand's follow-up stands alone as a universal story of generational reconciliation.

December 26, 2003
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Barbarian Invasions (Les Invasions barbares)

Much more moving and complex that the first picture, Danys Arcand bring these delight characters to the screen again, together with past, present and future sad ghosts.

Lucas Martins
Lucas Martins

Super Reviewer


A French Canadian guy is dying slowly so his rich son sets it up so he goes out after his old friends party together one last time (like that Greek philosopher guy ... but with woman). Lotsa talk about the good ol'days and sniffles later and everyone nods their head and says goodbye. Tries maybe too hard to be meaningful, like a Hallmark card with nothing personal written on it.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer


A truly outstanding film that leaves you with a great deal to digest. It does have its lulls, but the excellent acting and the double-edged sword that is Arcand's script more than make up for it. To the very end, you don't know who to take seriously and who to dislike, and the end result is a moving experience sprinkled with some of the darker comedy you'll ever see on film. It's a great creator of cynics, and while you may think you get what you want with the ending, you may not want what you got. It's brilliant.

Daniel Perry
Daniel Perry

Super Reviewer

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