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Filmmaker Letter

Filmmaker Letter

The Fall of the American Empire

by writer/director Denys Arcand

This is a film about money. What should I do with my money? What should you do with yours? Why are we always talking about money? Do we believe in anything else? Can we talk about a film without mentioning its box-office? Is a Warhol at $104 million better than a Van Gogh at $84 million? Could you help people with all that money? How should you help them?

Okay, suppose you are an intelligent young man. You have a PhD in philosophy from a reputable university. The market for philosophy majors is not exactly booming. You end up working for a delivery service.

You are convinced that you are too intelligent for the world we live in. You mention Donald Trump. You are breaking up with your girlfriend; she is a single mother, she is poor. With your delivery truck, you stumble on the scene of a botched hold-up. The police are not there yet. There are two big black bags lying on the ground. Roughly ten million dollars. Drug money. Your mind goes blank. You run and stuff the bags in your truck. The police show up. They don’t suspect you. Not yet.

At night, in your small apartment, you are looking at a real fortune. What to do? Every gang in town is going to look for those bags. Some of these guys are really nasty. The police will not be far behind. You hide the money in what you think is a secure place. Then you make your second mistake, you hire the most expensive escort girl for an hour of pure bliss. Now the police start to suspect you. The detective in charge of the case is as bright as you are. He wanted to study mathematics at Princeton. His family didn’t have the money. He hates his job and his alimony payments are killing him.

Because you are intelligent, you know that you must launder that money. How to do that? The hallmark of intelligence is the ability to find people who know more than you do. Like a biker coming out of prison, convicted of fraud. But then he states that the two of you now must find an international investor. How and where do you meet such a person? Top escort girls know that. But can you trust an escort? Could she be truly attracted to a naïve but sincere philosophy major? Or is she just in for the loot? Is it possible for a major investor to have a soft spot for an ex-mistress who has become an escort? At this point the detective is closing in on them. Never underestimate the police: if you cross them, they will find a way to get back at you. Meanwhile, the streets are full of homeless people.

I think this story is worth following.

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