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The Barbarian Invasions

Screenplay by Denys Arcand (director)

Studio: Miramax (released Nov. 21)

Category: Original

Storyline: Socialist history professor and bon vivant Remy (Remy Girard) is dying of cancer. His estranged wealthy son Sebastien (Stephane Rousseau) comes to his bedside for a reconciliation and to offer his father one last hurrah.

About the script: In a mix of biting political critique and bawdy humor, Arcand tells the story of one man’s final days. This moving portrait of family reconciliation is the writer-director’s most perceptive and deeply emotional work since “The Decline of the American Empire” in 1986. This earlier film helped Arcand find the key to the unofficial sequel. “I never thought I’d go back to these characters,” he says. “But I worked on this story over the last 15 years, and I was always coming up with these bleak scripts.” Then he remembered his characters from “American Empire,” and found that they injected the right dose of comedy into the sobering material.

Biggest challenge: “It’s a question of the right tone — being able to shift quickly from comedy to drama and back to comedy.”

Breakthrough idea: “One morning, I was coming out of my shower and I said, ‘What if I go back to these characters, and bring them into this story?’ As soon as I decided this, the script gelled.”

Favorite scene: “Towards the end, there’s a message from Remy’s daughter,” who is sailing away on some faraway ocean. “She says, ‘The first man in every woman’s life is her father.’ ” Remy cocks his head back, closes his eyes, and soaks in the words of the beloved daughter who has slipped out of his grasp.

Lines we love: Remy: “I voted for Medicare; and I’ll accept the consequences.” Remy: “My son is an ambitious and puritanical capitalist, while I have always been a sensual socialist.”

Writer’s bio: During a 41-year career in Canadian film and television, Quebecois filmmaker Arcand has won many accolades. His most famous films “The Decline of the American Empire” and “Jesus of Montreal” (1988) garnered Oscar nominations for foreign language film.

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