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

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

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




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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

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 the lives of Arcand's professorial friends. There's nothing bookish, however, about the subject matter of the stories themselves, which ranges from mild philandering to S & M. The Decline of the American Empire was the winner of eight Canadian Genie awards (that's the above-the-border equivalent of the Oscar), including Best Picture.

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Dominique Michel
as Dominique St. Arnaud
Louise Portal
as Diane Leonard
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Critic Reviews for The Decline of the American Empire (Le Déclin de l'Empire Américain)

All Critics (14) | Top Critics (1)

Arcand's chatty examination of a group of middle-aged intellectuals brought a hint of Woody Allen to the wilds of the Canadian film landscape, eclipsing linguistic politics with sex, and successfully reframing the next generation's existential crisis...

November 20, 2015 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

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 | Rating: C | Full Review…

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 | Rating: B | Full Review…

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

August 20, 2006 | Rating: 1/4 | Full Review…

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 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

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 | Rating: 3/5

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.

Lucas Martins
Lucas Martins

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

Alec Barniskis
Alec Barniskis

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]

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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