Girard gives feisty life to the battle-weary professor, but Rousseau just follows the drill--he is glass-eyed to the point of distraction. And for all its intellectual maneuvering, the film never regains the simple power of its opening salvo.
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What are critics saying?
The Barbarian Invasions might be called an idyll of death. Without excessive sentiment (but without slighting sentiment, either). [24 November 2003, p. 113]
Christian Science Monitor by David Sterritt
A bit too neat and calculated to make the emotions ring really true.
A reunion movie, and while it's often very funny, it has none of the self-satisfied piety or strenuous jokiness of "The Big Chill." Its mood shifts between defiant exuberance and wistful contemplation, but it's never mawkish.
ReelViews by James Berardinelli
Although the specter of death hovers over the entire film, it is neither a grim nor a depressing experience. Arcand has injected a great deal of wit into the movie, and it meshes perfectly with the anticipated pathos.
Los Angeles Times by Kenneth Turan
Bristling but finally surprisingly moving film.
A full-bodied, funny and gloriously unpretentious ode to family, friendship and the meaning of life, The Barbarian Invasions is solidly entertaining, sharply written and genuinely touching.
Village Voice by Michael Atkinson
Shear away the film's pretensions, and it's a soap opera of assholes.
Entertainment Weekly by Owen Gleiberman
I kept wondering how Arcand could have chosen as his generational representative a man not just flawed in his hedonism but one so fundamentally lacking in tenderness for others.
Rolling Stone by Peter Travers
It's a feast of smart, sexy, glorious talk. The Oscar for best foreign film belongs right here.