The Decline of the American Empire

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Released 1986

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Movie Summary

Director:
Denys Arcand
Released:
1986
Rating:
R
The Decline of the American Empire is set in a lakeside cottage where eight friends who teach in the history department at the nearby university gather for dinner. The conversation quickly turns to their unexpectedly active and diverse sex lives. Before dinner, the four men - one married, one gay, one with a girlfriend, and one a bachelor -- discuss their sexual conquests as the other guests, four women, visit a nearby gym. The women also talk about sex and their fascination with men. By dinner time, their not-for-mixed-company conversations collide as Dominique (Dominique Michel) is revealed as a spinster who has had affairs with two of the men including Remy (R''my Girard) who is presently married to another guest, Louise (Doroth''e Berryman). The arrival of a ninth dinner guest offers yet another surprise. Writer-director Denys Arcand explores the taboo of sex, sexuality, and the anatomy in a bright, satirical comedy that equates contemporary American politics to lust and personal desire. The Decline of the American Empire was co-produced by Cineplex-Odeon Films and is a winner of 9 prestigious Genie Awards including Best Motion Picture and nominee for the 1986 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film.moreless

Metacritic Score

  • 80

    The New York Times Vincent Canby

    Mr. Arcand's dialogue is not didactic. It's spontaneously funny and rueful and full of oblique revelations. Though highly intelligent, his characters are prone to self-delusion. Th...

  • 75

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    The movie is wise, deep, and painful, and it is filled with words. Used to be, a "sex film" contained lots of nudity and steamy scenes. That kind of stuff would just slow this one ...

  • 70

    Washington Post Rita Kempley

    The Decline of the American Empire is certainly the year's most intellectual work, a frequently funny, unrepressed meditation on midnight in North America. It's the kind of warning...

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