Film Festivals

TIFF 2018: The Fall of the American Empire Review

This will be one of many reviews during this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. If you would like to keep up with our content, click here.

Synopsis: Pierre-Paul Daoust, 36, an intellectual with a PhD in philosophy is forced to work as a deliveryman to afford a decent living. One day, while delivering a parcel, he gets caught in a hold up gone terribly wrong: two dead and millions in money bags laying on the ground. Pierre-Paul is confronted with a dilemma leave empty handed, or take the money and run? This new Denys Arcand film takes a witty yet touching look at, as only Arcand knows how, the predominance of money in a society where all other values seem to have crumbled. (eOne Films)

Starring: Maxim Roy, Alexandre Landry, and Vincent Leclerc

Writer: Denys Arcand

Director:  Denys Arcand

Rating: n/a

Running Time: 127mins

Trailer: n/a

Denys Arcand (who is something of a household name in French cinema, this being his 15th feature film) takes to struggling middle-class exploration in his latest feature, The Fall of The American Empire – A film that isn’t afraid to flaunt its influences and take its sweet time when developing ideas. Arcand’s analyzations don’t strictly halt after observing the middle class, as he goes onto delve deeper into the tree’s roots (dangerous scenarios, police run-ins, etc). Granted, his observations and discussion points aren’t anything truly innovative or demanding but they do provide solid reasoning for why we should care about our incredibly likable leads.

Arcand’s pacing lays in the middle ground between fast and slow. The narrative gives you a tad bit too much time to digest the events taking place on screen but also provides enough background stakes and tension to keep an audience member interested. Arcand achieves this as well visually via sporadic moments of 60’s/70’s Godard, where characters mumble out-of-left-field political commentary during a somewhat climactic or inciting event. Surprisingly, these scenes feel well-done judging by the tone that’s been developed throughout the narrative and not disrespectful to the style that Godard revolutionized.

Please note that without having seen The Decline of The American Empire, it is unclear whether or not this is a direct sequel or a late sister film but judging this as a standalone flick, it is a very solid one. It’s definitely vicious in terms of its characters and entirely captivating when it comes to its scenes of dialogue. This one will most likely go under most people radar’s due to its offbeat humor and polarizing structure, but it is well worth the watch.

Score: 7/10

Follow me on twitter @ScangaBen and on letterboxd @theccritic.

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