The Imperialists Are Still Alive! (2011)

The Imperialists Are Still Alive! (2011)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Imperialists Are Still Alive! Photos

Movie Info

A successful visual artist working in post-9/11 Manhattan, Asya (Elodie Bouchez) lives the life of the hip and glamorous, replete with exclusive art parties, supermodels, and stretch limousines while she carefully follows the situation in the Middle East on television. Asya learns that her childhood friend, Faisal, has disappeared-the victim of a purported CIA abduction. That same night, she meets Javier (Jose Maria de Tavira), a sexy Mexican PhD student, and romance blossoms. Javier finds Asya's conspiracy theories overly paranoid-but nothing in Asya's world is as it seems. Asya's life is reflective of the themes of cultural fusion, and the complications and humor that arise simultaneously out of everyday life. Zeina Durra's atmospheric debut feature, which premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival is an alluring and intelligent look at the way the war on terror seeps into the texture of everyday American life. Gorgeous 16 mm grain imbues the film with an anachronistic feel that interestingly evokes times past. THE IMPERIALISTS ARE STILL ALIVE! is an exceptional work heralding the arrival of Durra as an exciting new directorial talent. -- (C) IFC Films
Art House & International , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:


Karim Saleh
as Karim
Nidal Said
as Adaweeya
Joe Donovan
as Andrew
Elena Chang
as Pedicurist #1
Julie Mun
as Pedicurist #2
Sumy Ahn Lee
as Sun-Tae
Vanessa Hope
as Alicia
Esosa Edosomwan
as African Dancer
Victoria Aitken
as Lady in Bathroom
Sophie Auster
as Savina
Henry Kwan
as Man at Chinatown Bar
Sebastian Beacon
as Eurotrash Boy
Ran Ka
as Madame Al-Basha
Karen Lynn Gorney
as Elizabeth
R.N. Rao
as John
Mary Maybank
as Yvette
Natalia Zisa
as Maribelle
Bill Hart
as Environmental Dancer
Billy Hart
as Environmental Dancer
Mike Mikos
as Environmental Dancer
Wil Petre
as Environmental Dancer
Laine Rettmer
as Environmental Dancer
John Robichau
as Environmental Dancer
Natalie Thomas
as Environmental Dancer
Kristin Warnick
as Environmental Dancer
Ricky Garcia
as Van Driver
Marilyn McDonald
as Hair Lady
Coati Mundi
as Officer Lopez
Foad Attel
as Tarek
Neville Aurelius
as Bartender
Alexander Wraith
as Mohammed
Reza Salazar
as Miguel
Kaddur Habari
as Arabic Radio Report
Fabian Thelma
as French Television News Report
Fabien Thelma
as French Television News Report
Camilla Webster
as American Television News Report
Peter Hilton
as English Television News Report
Mona Husami
as Asya's Mother's Voice
Saadi Soudavar
as Asya's Brother's Voice
Vanessa Hope
as Alicia
Bill Hart
as Environmental Dancer
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for The Imperialists Are Still Alive!

All Critics (12) | Top Critics (8)

Nothing is resolved in the film, but Bouchez and De Tavira are exceptionally paired, and attuned to Durra's easygoing intellectual eros shorn of dramatics.

Full Review… | April 15, 2011
Top Critic

The first-time director's refreshingly credible portrait of a boho character with Middle Eastern origins rectifies the aforementioned canonical gap in a witty, naturalistic generational snapshot.

Full Review… | April 15, 2011
Top Critic

The Imperialists Are Still Alive! is an admirable film in many ways as its young writer-director, Zeina Durra, explores a subculture right before our eyes that remains mostly unseen.

Full Review… | April 15, 2011
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic

Too concerned with being cool to work up much in the way of political outrage, much less narrative drive.

Full Review… | April 14, 2011
New York Post
Top Critic

A multicultural vision of urbanity coalesces that is very different from that of a typical movie of impoverished immigrants trying to assimilate in an outer borough.

April 14, 2011
New York Times
Top Critic

The film is ultimately more interesting than engaging; Durra doesn't yet have a grasp of the simultaneous warmth and needle-sharp satirical sense that infuse Stillman's films.

Full Review… | April 14, 2011
AV Club
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Imperialists Are Still Alive!

With both hilarious satire and gentle emotional authenticity, the filmmaker, Zeina Durra, really gets the texture of young upper-class expats living in New York. She shows, on one hand, the freedom quite particular to New York City, where nationalities mix, where classes confront each other in much more ambiguous circumstances than wherever back home is, and where everyone you know is engaged is some sort of vague, self-obsessed pursuit of accomplishment --all amidst endless taxi and limo rides to the next coolest place, where you only ever stay for five minutes. On the other hand, the movie captures the way that , when you come to America, you feel as if you're in a place where the wars, the struggles, the serious business of other places, somehow get sucked into a bubble that you can look at, but not touch. Durra does an admirable job of gathering these stray pieces together to show the strange, restless state in which her characters live. The critics speak about the influence on Durra's work from Whit Stillman's films--which I love, and which always make me laugh out loud. She certainly has learned from his marvelous ability to capture social nuances and the characteristics of class and nationality, and to satirize them with an utterly straight face. The difference, I think, is that Stillman always remains slightly aloof, maybe even slightly aghast at his characters (or am I just projecting?), where Durra approaches them here with more compassion. She eventually lets you see the substance behind characters that start out as utterly frivolous. I'll certainly be looking for Durra's next film.

Sharon Kahn
Sharon Kahn

Another art film I was able to see at the Cleveland Institute of Art's Cinematheque. I knew nothing about it beforehand besides the blurb printed in the Cinematheque's calendar, which said it was inspired by the films of Whit Stillman. And that didn't help me out because I am not familiar with his films. Anyways, I gave it a shot and found it funny at times. Usually funny in the way that reality shows are funny because it is awkward watching spoiled self-important types show off how spoiled and self-important they are. There is a heart buried under the story of these glamorous hipster types though too. Elodie Bouchez as Asya is an artist born in France whose parents are of Middle Eastern decent. She learns that an ex-boyfriend was possibly abducted or at least has been prevented from leaving the Middle East when a military coup occurs. In a post-9/11 world the CIA suspects nearly everyone of Middle Eastern decent of potential terrorism. The ex-boyfriend's brother Karim still lives near Asya in Manhattan and is protective toward her. Asya's friend Tatiana was engaged to marry the ex-boyfriend very soon. Will he survive? Will he make it home to America? While all this is worrying Asya she goes about her life. After an art show including some of her work, she meets Javier, played by Jose Maria de Tavira, a Mexican law student. As they become closer, their circle of friends (and humorously whoever else wants to latch on to their young ritzy life) continue to go clubbing where there is always one friend too drunk to get home or to the next bar alone. The chemistry between Elodie and Jose is strong as their relationship develops. They laugh when they go on a date to a dance recital, just the two of them, because the dance is impossibly pretentious, but they seem unaware that their lifestyle is often just as pretentious. The pace and story challenge expectations in a good way, but I didn't always find it very meaningful.

Byron Brubaker
Byron Brubaker

Super Reviewer

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