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“The Fall of the American Empire” Comedy Askew



Review by John Delia

Quirky, predictable and somewhat inconceivable, combined with a script that’s two hours of French Canadian dialogue, The Fall of the American Empire’s a bit of a chore to watch. That said, the acting is quite good, the film production value gets good marks and the comedy does work as the movie progresses.

Pierre-Paul Daoust (Alexandre Landry) is an ordinary guy, but has the oddity of being cautious about everything. Unless a notable person has made a statement that will back up what others say to him, it’s not a truism. He’s even too careful about what he says to his longtime girlfriend Linda (Florence Longpré), especially about sex. Oh, he wants to have sex with her, but is afraid she will leave him if he asks. It’s the way everything goes in his life.

The one thing he’s proud of is his delivery job even though he doesn’t make much money at it. So one day while making a delivery to a local business he finds himself in the middle of a robbery gone bad. When the loot falls at his feet by a wounded robber, at first he ignores what just happened. Then, with no witnesses around he stashes the bags of money in his delivery truck.

Alexandre Landry as Pierre-Paul Daoust, Florence Longpré as Linda Demers Photo by Van Royko, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

So begins a story filled with how to spend the money and keep it safe from the gang the robbers were stealing it. Director and writer Denys Arcand, who also wrote the script for The Decline of the American Empire in 1984, keeps his movie moving along at a fast clip. He introduces other import characters on the fly and the main cast gets completed within the first 15 minutes. And that’s a good thing.

He sets up a lot of situations for Pierre-Paul including an online meeting with the prostitute Aspasie (played by Maripier Morin), hiring a noted accountant to hide his money (Rémy Girard as Sylvan “The Brain”) and constant run-ins with two police officers Carla (Maxim Roy) and Pete (Louis Morissette) that never can seem to catch him with the millions of dollars.

Maxim Roy as Carla McDuff, Louis Morissette as Pete La Bauve Photo by Van Royko, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

I guess this review is not a lot of good news for The Fall of the American Empire. Which by the way is a meaningless title for what I watched. Maybe if the Canadian filmmakers took it back to the editing room they may find a better title since they neglected to show a tie-in with their neighbors to the south. It may be that since Canada is in North America they didn’t mean the United States, but then they would have to take the references to George Bush, Bill Clinton and others out of the movie I guess. If you are getting this review in Ontario, Canada or speak French, than maybe the subtitle techs missed a lot of dialogue in the translation.

Maripier Morin as AspasieCamille Photo by Van Royko, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Not my kind of film I guess, but if you like a lot of nonsense and don’t mind that you have already figured the film out, then try it for a night at a local theater. The film is rated R by the MPAA for some strong violence, sexual content/nudity and language. The film spools out in French with English subtitles. NOTE: There is a very violent scene of torture and some splattered brains.

FINAL ANALYSIS: Not the sharpest action comedy. (2 out of 5 Stars)

Additional Film Information:
Cast: Alexandre Landry, Florence Longpré, Maripier Morin, Maxim Roy, Rémy Girard, Louis Morissette, Juliette Gosselin, Éric Bruneau
Directed and written by: Denys Arcand
Genre: Comedy, Crime, Foreign (French Canadian)

MPAA Rating: R for some strong violence, sexual content/nudity and language
Running Time: 2 hrs. 7 min.
Opening Date: June 28, 2019
Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics
Released in: Standard, Color, Subtitled

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