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A group of academics at the University of Montreal - most long time friends - are planning on gathering at the lakeside recreational home of Rémy and Louise, who have been together for twenty years, married for fifteen of them, for dinner. Louise knows Rémy cheats on her, but believes he only does so when she is not around, about which she accepts. Their recreational home is adjacent to many of the recreational homes of the others, who are: divorced Pierre, his much younger current girlfriend Danielle who is a student at the university, the two who are still in the stage of newfound love, divorced mother Diane, independent minded Dominique, single homosexual Claude, and graduate student Alain. While the four men prepare the dinner, the four women are working out together in the gym. The common factor between the two groups is the topic of conversation: sex, especially as it relates to themselves. But underlying each of the conversations is their own academic and thus intellectual ...Written by
Man's propensity for self deception is unquenchable
This is a very well done French-Canadian film about eight friends meeting for a dinner party out in the country. Three middle-aged men and a one young man are already at the manor where the dinner will take place, preparing the meal and discussing their sex lives. The remaining party guests, three middle-aged women and one young woman, are spending the day at the gym, exercising and discussing their sex lives.
Eventually they meet up at the country manor for dinner, and the conversation continues. While this may sound like not much happens, the film is never boring, and the direction by Denys Arcand keeps the viewer visually interested. I'm also keeping the character descriptions purposely vague, as their relationships to one another are revealed slowly as the film progresses. The dialogue is frank, funny and sharp, and all eight characters are fully-drawn human beings. I especially like the notion that these eight characters who seem to speak non-stop and at times overshare in the extreme, can't seem to honestly communicate when it matters most in their lives.
The title refers to a historical adage that when members of a given society begin to think about their own individual happiness above every other concern, that society is doomed. The characters' romantic navel-gazing and at times destructive pursuit of happiness seems to signal our own societal sunset. But don't let that heavy thought steer you away from the film, as it's brilliantly acted and well worth a look.
The sequel, "The Barbarian Invasions", made 17 years later, is also very worthwhile.
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