The Barbarian Invasions (Les Invasions barbares) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Barbarian Invasions (Les Invasions barbares) Reviews

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December 13, 2013
An overrated critics' darling that can use a tighter pace of editing.
November 3, 2013
The follow-up to the Decline of the American Empire. Both were up for awards at the Oscars. This sequel is more accessible. It's a good example of Canadian cinema. In fact, many consider it one of the very best to come out Canada. It deals with life, death, sex and drugs. The heroin addict is such a wonderful actress. She was also in Maelstron.
½ May 16, 2013
Not a happy movie, but a moving one that brought tears to my eyes by reminding me of my father's death. I wish could have arranged matters for him as the son did in this film. It is what I would prefer for myself, as well, but not the reality. We choose our pets time to die and don't let them suffer, but can't do the same for our human loved ones.
May 14, 2013
One of my favorite films. I have never enjoyed a reconciliation with life's absurdity as much as I did while watching this movie.
April 27, 2013
A fresh, smart, witty -but not all the way through-, dialogue driven exploration into the past of a dying man and his close group of friends and past lovers.
A pretty good script and a great performance by the lead actor.
½ April 6, 2013
LOVE IT! What a wonderful movie. Very funny.
February 27, 2013
it was nice enough, but i think a lot of the humour was lost on me as I don't have a strong French background. however the finale was touching, it's true, it would be wonderful to die surrounded by the people that love you and when you want, not when the illness gets you.
February 24, 2013
Les Invasions barbares has to be my favourite film to come out of Canada, although saying this is not saying much, considering how few I've seen. There are a lot in common with "The Sea Inside", although in the end I think both are surprisingly "upbeat", but I feel Invasions is a lot more critical and less hopeful than "The Sea Inside". Overall it's well written and directed, and there are some great performances (especially from Marie-Josée Croze), but I just couldn't ignore that the father son relationship is largely underdeveloped! Where this should be the center of the film, the son of the dying guy is only a supporting character, who doesn't know what to do except use his money to make everything happen in an artificial way. The moral message of the film could easily be: "Without money, u can't die peacefully surrounded by your friends and family".
½ February 10, 2013
A beautiful little film with its equal share of humour and sorrow...
½ February 3, 2013
mortality sure hell ain't the right before-bed topic, and it didn't help that there were bits that cut too close to home.
the most enjoyable bits - whenever the whole gang got together to just talking, talking.
like in the good ol' days.
Super Reviewer
January 30, 2013
The sequel to the Decline of the American Empire takes the life pondering group of friends into the age of death and decay and their attempts to embrace it with dignity. A treatise on relationships and how complicated ones end up being simple when faced with the end of life.
January 27, 2013
Its a story of one man dying but it is also a darkly funny and definitely unpretentious look at the importance of family, friends and life
October 15, 2012
Euro moral relativism set around a bloated dude I assume is dying from super-AIDS. Not bad, but I wasn't terribly excited.
September 3, 2012
Denys Arcand est définitvement une fierté du Québec. Fidèle à son habitude, les Invasions Barbares représente une certaine satyre de notre société vu le cynisme de l'oeuvre. On rit, on pleure, le scénario est parfaitement balancé entre l'émotion, l'humour et le côté très subtilement et parfaitement moralisateur.
½ August 10, 2012
I can appreciate the unorthodox approach of the film although I would not consider it an enjoyable film to watch. This has been described as a character film, but I think it was more of a personality film. There is no real character development and there is no real plot. The film is about a man that is about to die and his ex-wife makes sure the estranged son returns to Canada from England to see his father again. There is only one character that develops and it is the drug addicted daughter of the father's former mistress, but it is a subtle development.

I consider it a personality film because it introduces many characters in their set predispositions and you get to learn very little about them except the explicit facts they give about their home life or views on sex and politics. Even the father-son relationship does not really evolve. The son puts the effort into making his father comfortable through bribes to various people, but he is always an outsider in the film. He never gets close to his father. He has empathy based on knowledge that it is not easy to be a parent and that a painful death is not a desirable way to go. While there are some clever scenes, they are mostly pseudo-intellectual and some are historically distorted (whether through ignorance or unintentionally). Some of those problems come I think from the writer's experience, rather than the experience of actual PhD trained professors; it is impossible to know all things, but it would not have hurt to do some research to give more credibility to the character. The historical and political commentary lacks the nuance that real academics have.

One main dichotomy that I found unappealing was the portrayal of the older generation as full of passion and the younger generation as cold. An interesting observation also is that the older generation never felt responsible for the dysfunction of the younger generation: the son that moves away, the daughter that is always traveling by sea and the drug addicted daughter who witnessed the sexual encounters of her mother with numerous men. That might have been an interesting dynamic to explore. I was not expecting an artificial reconciliation, but simply the opportunity to tackle such subjects.

At a personal level, the morality is highly degrading. The dying man's ex-wife comes to his side after he constantly cheated on her as well as his mistresses. I am not a prude, but to present empty sexual encounters as a life-fulfilling experience is difficult to believe. It idealizes a particular lifestyle. I would not say that a monogamous lifestyle should be idealized either, but the presentation lacks honesty and is just as naive as the opposite. The idea that humans are no different than rabbits in heat is just as naive as that human sexuality can be easily controlled through the will.

This film was compared by Ebert to Tim Burton's Big Fish which he did not like. While Big Fish focuses on the mythical nature of how life is experienced, Barbarian Invasions dwells on glimpses on the experience of a slow and painful death. It is much more difficult to watch with regard to the realistic presentation of death although many elements were left out to avoid a completely realistic portrayal.

Some people might find this particular presentation on how to think of our mortality appealing, but the lack of true interaction between the characters, and lack of honesty with political and sexual themes treated will find others who seek different meditations on human mortality.
Super Reviewer
August 6, 2012
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.
½ July 26, 2012
Un bon petit film québecois qui possèdent ses moments touchants. Cependant, c'est un peu long et rebuttant à certains passages. Les acteurs s'en sortent généralement plutôt bien même si je n'ai pas trouvé Rousseau extraordinaire.
July 19, 2012
Bloody Canadian movies. Always trying to be smart and intellectual and only succeeding 40% of the time while wasting 60% of ours. The only Canadian movies I ever enjoyed was Jesus of Montreal and Silent Partner.
Super Reviewer
½ July 7, 2012
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.
June 3, 2012
Slicker visually and with more emotional resonance, The Barbarian Invasions does a credible job of continuing the lives of the characters from The Decline of the American empire. While decidedly less intellectual than its predecessor, The Barbarian Invasions none the less boasts a solid script and is an easier film to watch and engage with due to its more emotional content. While it doesn't explore sexual politics and relationships to the same degree, and is not nearly as cutting edge as Decline, it none the less manages to highlight the ties that bind and the importance and lasting strength of the bond between friends and family.
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