Wednesday, June 26, 2019

THE FALL OF THE AMERICAN EMPIRE: Denys Arcand's sweet and juicy anti-Capitalist fairy tale may be his best film yet

TrustMovies will have to wait until he's seen this film a second time before definitely calling it Denys Arcand's best (the writer/director is shown below), but it is certainly and immediately up there near the front of his pack -- which includes The Barbarian Invasions, The Decline of the American Empire, Jesus of Montreal, and the woefully under-seen and under-appreciated Stardom.

When, in the very first scene of a film, you find yourself agreeing with every single idea and word out of a character's mouth, even though it soon becomes clear that this guy is a loser par excellence, you know you are in very good hands.

So, just sit back and enjoy the remaining two-hour ride. These will be some of the best, most ironic and enjoyable, delectable, thought-provoking 120 minutes you can imagine -- filled with robbery and loot; a gorgeous, high-class hooker (with not just a heart of gold but a very bright mind); and various and assorted subsidiary characters, each of whom will be worth your time, your possible political awakening, your chuckles, and occasionally (particularly toward the end) some surprisingly moving moments.

THE FALL OF THE AMERICAN EMPIRE is a kind of fabulous fairy tale of how, with proper guidance, one can use some of the sleaziest tools of Capitalism in order to achieve one's goal of providing for the underclass. But who, other than writer/director Arcand, could have imagined that this trip would be quite so much fun? The journey begins with our hero, Pierre-Paul -- a naive, caring, but none-too-bright young hunk (played by the splendidly cast Alexandre Landry, above, left) -- about to lose his current girlfriend/bank employee (Florence Longpré, above, right).

From there, Pierre-Paul soon comes into contact with an enormous amount of stolen cash, and soon after with that aforementioned hooker (played with the perfect combo of looks, smarts and feeling by Maripier Morin, above), whose online professional name Aspasie, inspired via Racine or maybe Marivaux, entices our hero something fierce.

From that point on, we get everything from gangland torture (Don't worry:There a happy ending there, too) and a police investigation (by the twosome, above, Maxime Roy and Louis Morissette, left and right respectively) in which the cops are given a bit richer and more interesting characterization that we usually get) to a recently-released-from-prison former criminal trying to go straight but quickly sucked into these ever-more-interesting proceedings (Arcand semi-regular Rémy Girard, below),

and finally, perhaps the most interesting character of all, a high-level jack-of-all-trades investment entrepreneur (Pierre Curzi, at right, below) whose knowledgeable help regarding offshore workings is also required. How these folk bounce off each other personally and professionally makes for a most entertaining and thought-provoking ride.

There are also the homeless, of whom we see a certain amount (finally -- with quite an interesting jolt -- at the very conclusion) and for whom this entire caper has been set in place. As usual with M. Arcand, we are treated to ideas about morality and how to achieve it, hypocrisy and how to use it, and how Capitalism might even work -- were it Socialism that was actually calling the shots.

Sure, it's a fairy tale -- albeit a lovely, funny, adeptly-plotted one -- and so, after all, a sad little tease. But in these fraught and frightening times, what else do we have?

For its funny, sexy, highly original seduction scene alone, The Fall of the American Empire would be a don't-miss (there are a dozen other good reasons to see it, too).

Oh -- if it's the American empire that's falling here, how come the entire film takes place in Canada? Well, that's just a part of the ineffable Arcand charm.

From Sony Pictures Classics and running a surprisingly swift two hours and seven minutes, the movie opens here in South Florida this Friday, June 28, at the Coral Gables Art Cinema in Miami, the Regal Shadowood and Living Room Theaters in Boca Raton, and the Movies of Delray and Movies of Lake Worth. Wherever you live around the country, click here, then scroll down to find a theater near you.

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