I recently saw Quebec director Denys Arcand’s 2018 film “The Fall of the American Empire” on Netflix and instantly fell in love. The title, which is deceptively and bluntly direct, masks what is a philosophically-tinged crime caper wrapped in a morality play. The director revels in social commentary which, for me, hit the mark although I have read some critics state otherwise.
The protagonist is a philosophy PhD who works as a courier and happens upon a crime scene which forces him to make a split-second decision changing the course of his life forever. That this film works so well on different levels is kudos to Arcand’s mastery of his craft. I found the multi-layered approach gave the movie a complexity of vision that made the ending more satisfying and Arcand closes the story arc in a way that leaves us reflecting on how good and evil function in the world and about our obligation towards helping the less fortunate.
You can perhaps forgive Arcand for being preachy here particularly when the execution and intent is so spot on. In my opinion this is required viewing in which you will get brilliant cinematic shots of my city Montreal.
See if you agree.
(In French with English Subtitles)