The Decline of the American Empire
Four very different Montreal university teachers gather at a rambling country house to prepare a dinner. Remy (married), Claude (a homosexual), Pierre (involved with a girlfriend) and Alain (a bachelor) discuss sex, the female body and their affairs with them. Meanwhile, their four female guests, Louise (Remy's wife of 15 years), Dominique (a spinster), Diane (a divorcée) and Danielle (Pierre's girlfriend) are spending the time at a downtown health gym. They also discuss sex, the female body and, naturally, men. Later in the evening, they finally meet at the country house and have dinner. A ninth guest, named Mario, who used to know Diane, drops in on the group for some talk and has a surprise of his own.
I usually like talky pictures but these characters were quite insufferable, their monotonous conversations growing extremely tiresome. Look at us, aren't we marvelously intellectual and decadent? Boring and ultimately hypocritical is more like it. The film is well-made and well-acted, however.
For a long time one of my favorite movies. And not just because of the title...
This review reportedly contains spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Le déclin de l'empire américain
You know those movies where a group of friends get together and the film consists of a series of conversations between them regarding their lives, loves and many interminglings? Well, take one of those and make the characters completely unlikeable, thin and not remotely interesting and you've got The Decline of the American Empire. An endless tirade of insignificant conversations between overly sexual imbeciles, occasionally relieved by an unnecessary flashback that is supposed to mix comedy and drama but succeeds in neither.
There's a disturbing irony to it all because the film glazes over these dark, significant themes like infidelity but Arcand's approach is so flat and vanilla that none of it gets explored with even the slightest bit of…
I'm a fan of the talkie movies--the ones that do it well, that is. Movies that have people moving about in exterior worlds while the real action takes place in their internal ones. Or, more to the point, the action takes place in the intersection of people's internal worlds, as expressed by dialogue.
One reason I love them is because the films operate on two levels. You could walk away form this particular talking movie and say that it's about sex, but of course it's not at all about sex. It's not even about one character's views or ideas, but about social behavior and how our company changes our footing and what we talk about.
There are four distinct social…