(Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Classics)
Mo Money, Mo Problems
On “Mo Money, Mo Problems,” Biggie Smalls said, “B-I-G-P-O-P-P-A, no info for the DEA.
Federal agents mad cause I’m flagrant. Tap my cell and the phone in the basement.”
While Biggie made handling the stress of accumulating wealth seem like a day in the park, more money truly brings more problems especially if the money is begotten by illicit means.
But in “The Fall of the American Empire,” true ingenuity can outshine law enforcement’s best efforts even if the film fails to shine in the process.
In “The Fall of the American Empire,” Pierre-Paul Daoust (Alexandre Landry) epitomizes the terms late-bloomer and socially awkward.
He has a job, but not a good one.
He has money, but not a lot of it.
He has education, but his job does not require it.
And he has a girlfriend of over a year, but has not told her that he loves her yet.
Pierre-Paul thinks that his problem with finding success in life is because he is too intelligent to make it in the real world.
The deliveryman, with a doctorate degree in philosophy, believes only the intellectually challenged and the lucky make real money in their hometown of Montreal and throughout the world.
Furthermore, Pierre-Paul believes that one of society’s ills is that too many people focus on making lots of money.
Pierre-Paul believes that the love of money is what led to the downfall of America, especially under President Donald Trump.
However, not enough people focus on making a difference in the lives of others.
So while Pierre-Paul does not find much joy in his job or his relationship, he does find happiness in providing joy for others by volunteering his time and meager resources to help the homeless of Montreal.
While Pierre-Paul is philosophically and morally sound, one’s morals are not truly tested until one is faced with an ethical dilemma.
In “The Fall of the American Empire,” Pierre-Paul witnesses a brutal and deadly bank robbery while making one of his many deliveries of the day.
When two of the participants in the robbery get killed and a third runs away while dropping bags of stolen money, Pierre-Paul faces the moral crossroad of his young life.
His delivery job barely allows him to afford the most basic of lifestyles.
Furthermore, the lack of funds has made it virtually impossible to pay back the mountain of loan money he owes from his days as a student.
Lastly, his parents do not have wealth.
Therefore, the money will allow him to be less of a burden on his family.
What makes the decision extra difficult is that the police have not arrived on the murder/robbery scene yet?
The robbers stole millions of dollars and the moneybags are lying on the ground with no witnesses around.
Pierre-Paul makes the decision that many people would make in his circumstance or any circumstance.
However, just when Pierre-Paul thinks his luck has turned around, he realizes what Biggie Smalls realized by 1997.
The more money you accumulate, the more problems you obtain too.
Law enforcement officials in Montreal begin looking at him as a person of interest in the bank robbery.
The West End Gang begins looking for the person or persons that stole millions of dollars from them.
Therefore, if Pierre-Paul is to keep his money away from gangsters, police officers and the Canadian government, he will have to use his so-called superior intellect to outsmart the common people of society.
That presents its own set of challenges.
While Pierre-Paul possesses book smarts, he has no street smarts or financial sense.
Therefore, keeping the money will become a bigger obstacle than getting the money in the first place.
“The Fall of the American Empire” is descent.
Unfortunately, “The Fall of the American Empire” might not be a film that casual moviegoers would want to spend their hard earned money on.
“The Fall of the American Empire” is a foreign language picture, with most of the dialogue in French.
And while “The Fall of the American Empire” has its satirical and artsy moments, the film is not the type of foreign language film in which the subject matter is a total bore.
“The Fall of the American Empire” is a true heist and gangster movie, with a sexy romance included in the storyline.
In the film, Pierre-Paul hooks up with Aspasie (Maripier Morin), the most expensive call girl in Montreal.
Surprisingly, a true respect and friendship develops between the odd couple throughout “The Fall of the American Empire” that defies logic.
The prostitute and the holder of a Ph.D. make for an odd pair.
But Aspasie might possess the requisite street sense to help Pierre-Paul elude the law and the lawless gangsters on his trail.
Unfortunately, some of the acting at the beginning of “The Fall of the American Empire” does not measure up to domestic gangster classics that American moviegoers have grown accustomed to over the last few decades.
The bank robbery gunfight seems totally unbelievable and awkward.
Nevertheless, Pierre-Paul’s cleverness in his attempt to outsmart cops and criminals is great to watch.
Like many films, moviegoers probably will cheer for the people eluding law enforcement in “The Fall of the American Empire.”
But how many films will make moviegoers cheer for a lady of the night?
“The Fall of the American Empire” will definitely have moviegoers cheering for this particular lady of the night.
Aspasie as a call girl is reminiscent, only to a small degree, of Regina Hall’s performance as an exotic dancer in “The Best Man.”
Although they work in professions that many look down on, they are both more than meets the eye.
They both have a regal and intelligent quality that belies their profession.
Furthermore, “The Fall of the American Empire” is an intelligent comedy that is needed more in today’s cinema instead of the sophomoric humor found in many comedies.
However, the positives do not elevate “The Fall of the American Empire” past mediocrity proving that more money is not the only thing that leads to more problems.