Denys Arcand’s ‘The Fall of the American Empire’

Film Addresses Capitalist Greed and Redemption

‘The Fall of the American Empire’

Talk aplenty mixes with gritty action and satirical fizz in The Fall of the American Empire, the latest from French-Canadian director Denys Arcand (The Barbarian Invasions, Jesus of Montreal, and a precursor film, 1986’s The Decline of American Empire). The Fall tells the tale of a cynical and idealistic intellectual (Alexander Landry) who bumps into a bundle of dirty money from a botched heist and is drawn into an elaborate scheme involving a sex worker/love interest (Maripier Morin) and an ex-con with hearts of gold. Comeuppance, of the bloody and career-sabotaging sort, is in store for criminals of both the gangland and high finance kind, along with other sub-plotting detours. From these materials, Arcand spins a charming though sometimes didactic yarn, addressing the evils — and American empire values — of capitalist greed and money-obsession, but also the possibilities of redemption. Arcand also extends compassion for the homeless, in Montreal and elsewhere in the American empire.


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