Denys Arcand talks about “love as humanity’s last refuge” in his latest film

Alexandre Landry

10/21/2018.- A film competing in the Official Section of the 63rd Valladolid International Film Festival was presented today. The film in question is La Chute de l’empire américain (The Fall of the American Empire), the latest production by Canadian director Denys Arcand, a social review born from the same philosophy adopted in Le Declin de l’Empire américain (The Decline of the American Empire) 30 years ago.

The director was unable to attend the film presentation because of other commitments, but the film’s producer Denise Robert and the lead actor, Alexandre Landry, who plays the young man with a PhD in philosophy who comes across a large bag of money from a robbery, were in attendance.

Arcand, like the historian he is, is used to questioning social issues in his work. “He does not judge, he merely asks questions”, explained Robert during the post-screening press conference. On this occasion, the conundrum that the protagonist and the spectators must resolve seems simple: What would you do if you found a large bag stuffed with wads of money? What’s more: What would you do with it if you also knew that it came from a bank hold-up?

To open the session, Denise Robert read a letter on the filmmaker’s behalf, in which Arcand confirmed that “the film talks not only about money as a driving force behind our societies, but also about love and compassion as humanity’s last refuges”.

Landry himself had to wrestle with this question at the request of Arcand, with the bag placed before his eyes. “I don’t have a straightforward answer. The character, however, follows his instincts and surrounds himself with unrelated people who bestow their beauty upon the film, as they demonstrate their influence over others”.

Arcand looks at how the characters interact with money and with each other. “Each person has a very different relationship with money and seeks it for varying reasons”. The police and robbers have different motives for wanting to get the money back; the prostitute, who seeks to get rich by selling her body, has a different perspective on things; and people without a roof over their heads find it excessive what for others is normal.

Arcand revisits his detective-genre roots to lead the audience to a possible conclusion: in the words of Landry, “love and compassion surpass the power of money”.

Posted in 63rd Seminci.