Made in 1989 by French Canadian director Denys Arcand (The Barbarian Invasions), Jesus of Montreal was much honored at the time of its release, receiving the jurors' prize at Cannes and an Oscar nomination for best foreign language film. It's easy to see why. The premise - that a group of young, unconventional actors find themselves at odds with the established church when they investigate Christ's teachings - is a whopper, and Arcand pulls if off with some finesse; he never preaches and he refuses easy ironies. Jesus of Montreal delivers no facile moral lesson, but it never descends into simple church-bashing either. It is, rather, a little bit of both worlds; like The Barbarian Invasions, it's a social comedy, and it invites a little reflection, too.
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In Denys Arcand's "The Barbarian Invasions," the bald, flabby, bespectacled Remy (Remy Girard) is slowly dying. He never makes a miraculous recovery, nor does he renounce his sinful lifestyle, nor does he leave behind a fortune for his friends and family to enjoy. He's a goner.
How difficult it must be to get producers to finance a film about death, not to mention getting audiences to pay to see a film about death.
The reason "The Barbarian Invasions" succeeds is because -- to quote an old critical chestnut -- it's really about life.
Continue reading: The Barbarian Invasions Review
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