Six Degrees of Cinema: The Barbarian Invasions

It’s sort of hilarious that Isabelle Blais was what linked me to The Barbarian Invasions (Les Invasions barbares) because she is in literally two scenes of the movie, and both of those are video messages that last two minutes. But as sad as I was that she wasn’t more of a presence I am so glad I watched this film. (And it’s mostly in French so I think that means I have to call it a film.)

This won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film when it came out and I think I avoided seeing it at the time because based on the title I thought it was about war. It is actually about a mediocre professor Rémy (Rémy Girard ) who is dying of cancer and the at times hilarious and at times heart wrenching lengths that his half-estranged son Sébastien (Stéphane Rousseau ) goes to make him comfortable, which include everything from building him his own hospital room to getting him heroine because a doctor told him it was better for pain than morphine.

As you can probably tell this isn’t exactly a laugh riot conceptually, and I absolutely cried my eyes out at certain points (the conclusion of course, but more so at the flashback where Rémy has to tell his indifferent students that he’s retiring to no reaction.) But there’s also a lovely lighter side, especially when Rémy’s friends and former mistresses/wives show up to give him a proper send off, it becomes like a later in life Big Chill if Kevin Costner (yes the dead body in The Big Chill is Kevin Costner) had hung around to mourn himself.

My main take away from this is that I really need to watch more French-Canadian movies, because the actors in this were all so compelling and I had never heard of any of them. Also bilingualism is really cool.

And this is the end of my first chain! I really enjoyed this because it forced me to watch some things that literally wouldn’t have occurred to me, so I’m excited for the next one! (If certain movies ever come through on “hold” at the library…)

On this chain:

Smashed The Spectacular Now Rabbit HoleOz the Great and Powerful The High Cost of Living – The Barbarian Invasions

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