CFS presents ‘Barbarian Invasions’ this week

Keith Jones Jr.

The dramatic comedy “The Barbarian Invasions” revolves around Remy, a middle-aged history professor who reevaluates his life while struggling with terminal cancer. While this may seem like an outright sob story, director Denys Arcand effectively leaves viewers feeling good. Without concentrating solely on his imminent demise, Remy instead muses on life and love with family and friends. The film also involves the efforts of his estranged son to make his dying father’s last days more comfortable. The theme of forgiveness is deeply rooted in this film, as Sebastian proves he is willing to go to any length, even as far as navigating Quebec’s problematic healthcare system.

The film reintroduces several of Arcand’s characters from his earlier work, “Decline of the American Empire,” which he made in 1986. Though the earlier film focuses on a much younger Remy and his group of friends, it remains one of Canada’s biggest international successes. However, one would be wrong to infer that “Invasions” is a typical sequel. Arcand begins nearly from scratch in his depiction of the characters, allowing “Invasions” to stand on its own. In other words, you don’t need to see “Decline” in order to understand and appreciate the follow-up.

The story can be appreciated most for its jokes about a variety of issues during Remy’s last days. He and his friends travel to the cottage of the first film and discuss philosophy, politics, the Church, Marxism and past sexual and intellectual exploits. However, “Invasions,” which netted the Best Foreign Film Oscar in 2003, was not only recognized for its light-hearted banter, but also for its criticism of Canada’s system of socialized medicine. At one point in the film, Remy even remarks that he was lucky not to be staying in the hall with other patients in the run-down hospital. He is finally moved into a single room by his son, now a successful businessman who pays off the right people and helps his dad score drugs to ease his pain.

“The Barbarian Invasions” is being shown four times in Connelly Center Cinema, as part of the Cultural Film & Lecture Series, “Forgiveness”: 7 p.m. on Saturday, 3:30 and 7 p.m. on Sunday and 7 p.m. on Monday. Tickets are $3.50 for students and $5 for everyone else. On Monday evening’s showing, Larry Starr, chair of the graduate program in Organization Dynamics at the University of Pennsylvania, will lead a discussion about the movie.

For more information, please call x9-4750 on weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., or consult the CFS Web page: