Generally favorable reviews - based on 34 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 34
  2. Negative: 2 out of 34
  1. 100
    Dying is not this cheerful, but we need to think it is. The Barbarian Invasions is a movie about a man who dies about as pleasantly as it's possible to imagine; the audience sheds happy tears.
  2. A brilliant entertainment, full of bemused skepticism and reckless, prodigal love -- for these people and their vanishing era and lives.
  3. 90
    Arcand's fondness for the good old 60s can be cloying, but despite an uneven cast, he finds a tonal balance between sentimental and cynical that keeps the conversations real and heart wrenching.
  4. 88
    It's a feast of smart, sexy, glorious talk. The Oscar for best foreign film belongs right here.
  5. Where Denys Arcand's delightful 1986 comedy "The Decline of the American Empire" celebrated the good life, his profoundly funny sequel The Barbarian Invasions heartily toasts the good death.
  6. 88
    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.
  7. 83
    The combination of ideas and wit, lively characterizations, believable human dilemmas and a climax that both melts and braces you makes for a fine blend. A movie about ideas may sound like a drag, but this one packages them in well-earned emotions.
  8. 80
    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.
  9. Bristling but finally surprisingly moving film.
  10. The rapprochement between Rémy and Sébastien is beautiful to watch, and all of the characters in The Barbarian Invasions are played with a lusty warmth that makes them lovable even when they are being tiresome.
  11. Reviewed by: David Edelstein
    A pungently funny and heartfelt piece of wish fulfillment.
  12. Reviewed by: Lisa Nesselson
    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.
  13. The film grows on you too, a later-stage version of "The Big Chill" that starts schematically and ends as a stirring celebration.
  14. Admirable in its refusal to be politically correct.
  15. 80
    A movie that, in the story of one man dying, shows us all how to live.
  16. 80
    The Barbarian Invasions might be called an idyll of death. Without excessive sentiment (but without slighting sentiment, either). [24 November 2003, p. 113]
  17. A deeply felt celebration of the life force, as embodied in Girard's fierce performance as a man who may not have done all he could, but had an enviably great time on the way.
  18. The treatment of the subject isn't maudlin, thanks to a witty script and an enormously likable lead character, Remy (Remy Girard), who remains bullheaded and lusty to the finish.
  19. Despite a slight tendency to be overly pleased with itself, this is a smart piece of work that got Arcand's screenplay an award at Cannes.
  20. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    A honey, but your response to it may depend on where you fall on life's big curve.
  21. As a film about intellectuals, The Barbarian Invasions can sometimes seem maddeningly scattered and contradictory.
  22. 70
    The Barbarian Invasions' flaws are mainly glaring because the movie is occasionally so winning.
  23. 70
    Arcand loyalists are bound to miss Rémy, but at least he goes out in style. Even the antagonists will have to admit that.
  24. 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.
  25. Like a family visit during the holidays. Tensions run high, not everyone is likable but being there's an uneasy comfort because everything is so familiar.
  26. Reviewed by: Maia Abraham
    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.
  27. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    If the banter lacks the often brilliant and erudite -- if showy -- sparkle of its predecessor, the acting is still first-rate, and the film will be best enjoyed by fans eager to spend another 90 minutes with a group of old friends.
  28. Reviewed by: Patrick Peters
    The structure similarly misses the flashbacking subtlety of the original. Even the characterisation lacks depth.
  29. A bit too neat and calculated to make the emotions ring really true.
  30. 40
    Which would all be well and good, if only Arcand's approach weren't so deliberate and stupefyingly superior.
  31. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Arcand has a gift for witty dialogue but a weakness for force-feeding his story with sentiment. References to ancient holocausts and to 9/11 simply expose the intent of a director who will do anything to touch his audience -- with a sweet gesture or a cattle prod. And in a comedy of manners, that behavior is very impolite.
  32. 38
    Schmaltzy and contrived.
  33. Shear away the film's pretensions, and it's a soap opera of assholes.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 29 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 20
  2. Negative: 1 out of 20
  1. PatC.
    Jun 30, 2006
    Intelligent and relevant without being inspiring, being somewhat diluted by itself.
  2. BobM.
    May 23, 2006
    A beautiful film; very unhollywood; thoughful; and thank God, not something the Villlage Voice liked.