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Four very different Montreal university teachers gather at a rambling country house to prepare a dinner. Remy (married), Claude (a homosexual), Pierre (involved with a girlfriend) and Alain (a bachelor) discuss sex, the female body and their affairs with them. Meanwhile, their four female guests, Louise (Remy's wife of 15 years), Dominique (a spinster), Diane (a divorcée) and Danielle (Pierre's girlfriend) are spending the time at a downtown health gym. They also discuss sex, the female body and, naturally, men. Later in the evening, they finally meet at the country house and have dinner. The discussion? Well, you can guess it... However, a ninth guest, named Mario, who used to know Diane, drops in on the group for some talk and has a surprise of his own. Written by
A Movie that Reflects the Social and Sxual Liberation of Quebec
Having lived and taught at a francophone public university in Montreal in the early 1970's, I found this movie (just recently available through Netflix) accurately reflecting the preoccupation with sexual liberation, sexual experimentation and gender equality among so many Quebecois. Starting in the 60's, and definitely continuing into the 70's, Quebecois totally overthrew centuries of social control exercised by a particularly conservative Catholic church. Except for the 17th century language with its unique pronunciation, and maybe "cabane-a-sucre" (maple syrup) parties in late winter, countless traditions and social hierarchies apparently were scrapped. I believe sexual exploration and questioning of authority went far deeper than in the US, at least among the many urban middle and working class young people I met in that period. Yes, "Decline ..." is wordy, but words have their own eroticism, and mind-body integration is a big part of the sexual liberation the characters were facing, for better or worse. If you like this movie don't miss the sequel, The Barbarian Invasions, which reexamines these characters from a (hopefully) more mature perspective, skillfully weaves death and desire, and is just a great movie.
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