Set 17 years after the previous film in this trilogy (The Decline of the American Empire, but don’t worry if you haven’t seen it, it’s not required viewing to understand this movie), The Barbarian Invasions follows a group of baby-boomer intellectuals as they face one of life’s harsh truths: we all die.
They’re used to drinking wine by the bottle while they banter about life and sex, but now they have to face their own mortality; one of their own, Rémy (Rémy Girard doing the best work of his career) has an incurable cancer. His imminent death pushes him to reflect on his life, and also, maybe, reconnect with his son Sébastien who’s moved to London to work in finance.
In The Barbarian Invasions, director Denys Arcand delivers a scathing comment on Quebec society, from its failing health system to corrupt unions, a commentary that’s unfortunately still largely relevant 20 years later.
But The Barbarian Invasions is also a reflection on life’s meaning, friendship and love.