The Barbarian Invasions movie poster
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The Barbarian Invasions movie poster

The Barbarian Invasions Movie Review

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Les Invasions barbares (The Barbarian Invasions) won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Picture, and having finally seen it, I can understand why. While it does not rank as one of the best dramas all time, it is extremely effective and at times powerful as the movie explores the complicated relationship between a man and his dying father.

Sebastian (Stephane Rousseau) is at first hesitant to see his father at the airport; they have barely spoken with one another in years. Nevertheless, he shows up and can see that his father, Remy (Remy Girard), has only so long to live. So, he does what he does best and starts manipulating the system so that his father can have the best of deaths, first arranging for him a special room, finding heroin to ease his pain, and contacting his old group of friends. Still, will Remy be able to appreciate all that his son has done for him, and will Sebastian accept that Remy played a greater role in his life than he first thought?

The Barbarian Invasions is an intriguing film as it is able to make an entire dynamic of characters around a single man dying in a Montreal hospital. Every major character is given such depth, especially that of Nathalie (Marie-Josée Croze), the heroin addict whom Sebastian finds to help his father. Most compelling is the father himself, who seems unafraid to die because he has experienced so much. The most powerful and tragic scene in the movie is where Remy, a university professor, tells his students that he will be unable to complete the rest of the quarter. One student asks if the deadlines he set forth are still in place; none of them ask why he is ill.

The movie does struggle near the end as it delves into philosophies and the interactions of intellectual characters that few of us can relate with (of course, that is the whole point of the movie). Nevertheless, the rest of the film moves along at a brisk pace.

The Barbarian Invasions is an interesting and unique drama that has a good script, great acting and a complicated yet intriguing moral. And no, there are no physical invasions in the movie, and no real barbarians.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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