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

Film Addresses Capitalist Greed and Redemption

Photo: Courtesy‘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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