Box Office - 11/01/2008 4 stars out of 5 -- "[E]nduringly fascinating and involving. Sprawling yet totally absorbing family drama with gold-star French diva Catherine Deneuve at its heart should find favor with sophisticated palates."
Los Angeles Times - 11/14/2008
"[N]othing could be more energizing, more captivating, more pure pleasure on screen than the passionate, evocative experience that has resulted....A captivating portrait of the most gorgeously fractious dysfunctional family."
New York Times - 11/14/2008
"[A] movie that is almost indecently satisfying and at the same time elusive, at once intellectually lofty...and as earthy as the passionate provincial family that is at its heart and cosmos and reason for being."
Rolling Stone - 11/27/2008 3.5 stars out of 4 -- "Dark secrets are unlocked, words draw more blood than punches, and Desplechin turns one family into a universe that resembles life a startling work of art."
Entertainment Weekly - 11/21/2008
"As always in a Desplechin production, the exquisitely chosen musical soundtrack for A CHRISTMAS TALE is its own reward, a glorious mash-up of musical sensibilities....The movie is enchanting." -- Grade: A
Chicago Sun-Times - 11/19/2008
"[A] strangely encompassing collection of private moments among the members of a large family with a fraught history. Some of the moments are serious, some revealing, some funny, some simply wry..."
Empire - 02/01/2009 4 stars out of 5 -- "A compellingly literate exploration of the muddle of misguided motives and lingering regrets that bind families together."
Total Film - 02/01/2009 4 stars out of 5 -- "It's superbly acted....Desplechin's generosity to his characters is unquestionable."
For some, Christmas means the joy of spending time with loved ones. But not for the Vuillard family in Arnaud Desplechin's blackly comic A CHRISTMAS TALE. Instead of egg nog, bile and venom flow at the family get-together when estranged son Henri (Mathieu Amalric, QUANTUM OF SOLACE) returns. His mother, Junon (French legend Catherine Deneuve), has cancer, and Henri may be the bone marrow donor match that could save her life. Oldest daughter Elizabeth (Anne Consigny, THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY) is equally unhappy to see her brother; he has been an emotional and financial drain on the family, and she had him legally banished from the family six years ago. But with his return, old wounds are freshly opened as the entire family gathers together for what could be their last holiday.
Director Desplechin's previous film KING AND QUEENS established his ability to seamlessly meld drama and comedy, and A CHRISTMAS TALE continues that tradition. This French film easily moves the audience between laughter, gasps, and tears. The behavior of the Vuillard famille is atrocious at times, and it goes beyond just the awful--and sometimes awfully funny--things they say to one another. But Desplechin has no trouble acheiving the right tone in these moments, and his postmodern style of filmmaking (with elements such as the actors addressing the camera) is perfectly suited to the material. His ensemble cast includes Jean-Paul Roussillon, Denueve's real-life daughter Chiara Mastroianni, and Melvil Poupaud, and though each does a fantastic job, it's the bitter and hilarious interplay between Amalric's Henri and Deneuve's Junon that carries the film. It's not destined to be a feel-good holiday classic à la IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, but A CHRISTMAS TALE may prove a perfect prescription for when viewers' families get to be a little too much.
Black Comedy |
Family Interaction |