Christmas Tale

Christmas Tale

4.2 5
Director: Arnaud Desplechin

Cast: Anne Consigny

     
 

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The devastating reverberations of a profound tragedy echo through generations of a long-suffering French family in this emotional family drama from director Arnaud Desplechin. When Abel and his wife, Junon, started a family, it seemed like the seeds of true happiness had been planted. But while their daughter, Elizabeth, was healthySee more details below

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Overview

The devastating reverberations of a profound tragedy echo through generations of a long-suffering French family in this emotional family drama from director Arnaud Desplechin. When Abel and his wife, Junon, started a family, it seemed like the seeds of true happiness had been planted. But while their daughter, Elizabeth, was healthy from the day she was born, things quickly turned dark when her brother Joseph was diagnosed with a rare and deadly genetic condition. Joseph's only hope for survival was a bone marrow transplant, but Abel, Junon, and Elizabeth were all incompatible. In one last, desperate chance to save their son's life, Abel and Junon conceived a third child. But not even little Henri could save his ailing brother's life. Joseph died at the age of seven, and neither his siblings nor his parents have ever found the strength to recover. Years later, family relations have deteriorated beyond the point of repair; the tensions between family matriarch Elizabeth and her cynical brother Henri finally culminating in a violent confrontation in which Elizabeth banishes her alcoholic brother and refuses him further contact with his troubled adolescent nephew, Paul.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
Leave it to the French to make a movie called A Christmas Tale that has little to do with Christmas. Don't take that as a criticism. A Christmas Tale is an intimate, involving, well-acted story about a dysfunctional family rallying around the illness of its matriarch, but anyone who watches it for some light holiday cheer -- mistaking it for either A Christmas Carol or A Christmas Story -- will be sorely disappointed. Arnaud Desplechin's film is most reminiscent of Julian Schnabel's The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, as both films feature Mathieu Amalric and Anne Consigny, and both consider the strain on family in times of medical crisis. Desplechin's script, which he co-wrote with Emmanuel Bourdieu, allows ample time (150 minutes) to explore this strain, consisting of a succession of talking-head scenes that draw out the nuances in these characters' relationships. Again, not a criticism. Desplechin recognizes that family drama carries more weight when the audience has an emotional investment in the characters, so what might seem like flab in a Hollywood film instead provides useful texture as the story builds toward its climax. Catherine Deneuve does her usual fine work as the matriarch -- a victim of her illness, but hardly innocent. The standouts, however, are Amalric and Consigny, as the siblings whose deep wounds have festered to the point of mutual disassociation. Amalric, who had to act with one eye in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, is equally memorable given free reign of his emotions, playing the family's black sheep, while Consigny projects a lacerating coldness that makes the moral high ground seem just as unforgivable. Desplechin contributes a wonderful visual playfulness, using puppets, for example, to cover the narrative exposition of the family's history. A Christmas Tale is quite a gift, whether received in December or otherwise.

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Product Details

Release Date:
12/01/2009
UPC:
0715515049016
Original Release:
2008
Rating:
NR
Source:
Criterion
Region Code:
A
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Time:
2:32:00
Sales rank:
8,999

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Catherine Deneuve Junon,Junon Vuillard
Jean-Paul Roussillon Abel,Abel Vuillard
Anne Consigny Elizabeth
Mathieu Amalric Henri
Melvil Poupaud Ivan
Hippolyte Girardot Claude
Emmanuelle Devos Faunia
Chiara Mastroianni Sylvia
Laurent Capelluto Simon
Emile Berling Paul
Thomas Obled Basile
Clément Obled Baptiste
Françoise Bertin Rosaimée
Samir Guesmi Spatafora
Azize Kabouche Dr. Zraïdi

Technical Credits
Arnaud Desplechin Director,Screenwriter
Sylvie Aid Makeup
Dan Bevan Production Designer
Emmanuel Bourdieu Screenwriter
Laurence Briaud Editor
Nicolas Cantin Sound/Sound Designer
Pascal Caucheteux Producer
Éric Gautier Cinematographer
Gregoire Hetzel Score Composer
Jean-Pierre Laforce Sound Mixer
Sylvain Malbrant Sound/Sound Designer
Nathalie Raoul Costumes/Costume Designer
Gabriele Roux Asst. Director
Stephane Touitou Casting

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Scene Index

L'aimée, Desplechin's 2007 documentary about the sale of his family home; Arnaud's Tale, a new 35-minute documentary featuring interviews with Desplechin and actors Mathieu Amalric and Catherine Deneuve; Original theatrical trailers; Plus: a booklet featuring an essay by critic Phillip Lopate

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