Film Screening 7th August, 2004

Poster for The Barbarian Invasions (Les Invasions Barbares)

The Barbarian Invasions (Les Invasions Barbares) 

8:00 PM, 7th August, 2004
No Guests

  • MA
  • 99 mins
  • 2003
  • Denys Arcand
  • Denys Arcand
  • Remy Girard, Stephane Rousseau, Marie-Josee Croze, Dorothee Berryman, Louise Portal, Dominique Michel

Remy (Girard) is dying. His son Sebastien (Rousseau), a London financier, has come home to take care of him. Remy says to his son: "You are a puritanical capitalist. I am a sensualist socialist." In many other films, you'd get the impression that the writer thought of this line first, then created two-dimensional characters to fit around it. Here, the characters came first. Remy's line is an apt, but inadequate, attempt to describe them.

Sebastien pulls all the strings he can, even with heroin dealers (the most touching thing in the film is the unexpected friendship that blossoms between Remy and Nathalie (Croze), the young addict whose help he needs), in order that his father's last days be worthwhile. He assembles all Remy's old leftist academic friends for one last fling. An earlier Arcand film, The Decline of the American Empire, consists mainly of these people talking at a dinner party, something which only works when the characters are real and interesting enough for us to feel we could have dinner with them. They're also real and interesting enough to be worth taking a look at 17 years on. The later film has more of a story - also more of a soul.

Henry Fitzgerald

Poster for Jesus of Montreal

Jesus of Montreal 

9:59 PM, 7th August, 2004

  • M
  • 119 mins
  • 1989
  • Denys Arcand
  • Denys Arcand
  • Lothaire Bluteau, Catherine Wilkening, R((eacute))myGirard, Johanne-Marie Tremblay, Robert Lepage

A group of actors are hired by the Catholic Church to perform "The Passion Play", which depicts the last days of the life of Jesus, at St. Joseph's Oratory in Montr((eacute))al. This time, however, the actors decide to do a modernised version of the play, incorporating questions about the historical Jesus and the manner of his death. This, naturally, causes a stir among the more conservative members of the Catholic Church.

Their reworking of the play is combined with scenes from the actors' personal lives, particularly that of Daniel (Bluteau), who plays Jesus, and comes to identify with his role. He casts Mireille (Wilkening), a beautiful actress who "sells her body" by appearing in sleazy beer commercials, as Mary Magdalene. He finds himself sympathising with strangers, is tempted by the devil, and is arrested while 'in character'. Thus the story of the actors mirrors the biblical story of the life of Jesus, sometimes in unexpected ways.

While much of the interest in the film may be due to its unorthodox version of the life of Jesus, the portrayal of the lives of the actors is equally important. Denys Arcand weaves these two stories together to make a statement about art and religion, integrity and sacrifice.

Gretchen McGhie