TIFF 2018 Review: The Fall of the American Empire

The Fall of the American Empire

8 out of 10

A bristling, timely, and highly entertaining return to form for Quebecois filmmaker Denys Arcand, The Fall of the American Empire stands nicely alongside The Barbarian Invasions and The Decline of the American Empire as some of his career best work.

Paced and pitched like a comedic heist film, writer-director Arcand’s latest follows the exploits of a bookish, charitable, and socially awkward courier (Alexandre Landry) who happens into two gym bags stuffed with cash after he witnesses a couple of stick up men attempting to rob a mob front business. Not knowing what to do with the money, but wanting to do something with the ill gotten gains, the sheltered 36-year old teams up with a high end sex worker that he’s sweet on (Maripier Morin) and a former biker gang money launderer (Rémy Girard) to stay one step ahead of a pair of suspicious detectives and a lot of bad dudes who want their cash back.

While the film’s lengthy running time is certainly pushing things, The Fall of the American Empire breezes by on wit, strong characters, and the strength of the film’s overall concept. Arcand has plenty to say about how society undervalues intelligence, how people are quick to moral finger wagging, and how policing is often just another form of capitalism in action, and all of it is on point. The leads have exceptional chemistry, and the caper plot at the heart of all of Arcand’s weighty thematic material is a lot of fun. It’s worth the wait for this one to finally make its way into English language Canada.

Thursday, September 6, 2018 – 6:00 pm – Elgin Theatre
Friday, September 7, 2018 – 9:45 am – TIFF Bell Lightbox

Andrew Parker
Andrew Parker fell in love with film growing up across the street from a movie theatre. He began writing professionally about film at the age of fourteen, and has been following his passions ever since. His writing has been showcased at various online outlets, as well as in The Globe and Mail, BeatRoute, and NOW Magazine. If he's not watching something or reading something, he's probably sleeping.

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