french films > A Christmas Tale

A Christmas Tale

A Christmas Tale

A Christmas Tale

Review score: * * * * *

cast: Mathieu Amalric, Catherine Deneuve, Anne Consigny, Melvil Poupaud, Hippolyte Girardot, Emmanuelle Devos, Chiara Mastroianni, Laurent Capelluto, Emile Berling

year: 2008

colour: yes

certificate: 15

director: Arnaud Desplechin

runtime: 150

Don't be fooled by the title: this is no saccharine story of joyful tots gathered round a tree, but something altogether more grown up – dark, brilliantly observed, acidly funny. Desplechin (Kings and Queens) brings an inimitable spin to the home-for-the-holidays story, crafting an enjoyably audacious tale of a family with a troubled past and a painful present. After several years apart the Vuillard family come together for Christmas at the family home in Roubaillard, Northern France. The clan is headed by Junon (Catherine Deneuve) a forthright matriarch who needs a bone marrow transplant to survive her recently diagnosed cancer. But which of the family might provide a suitable and willing donor? Eldest daughter Elizabeth (Anne Consigny), a depressed playwright with a troubled son, is estranged from her brother Henri (Mathieu Amalric), the hard-drinking black-sheep of the family. Their vulnerable younger brother, Ivan (Melvil Poupaud), already has his own young family, perhaps as a means of escaping the one he was born into. With it's breathtakingly frank dialogue and inventive stylistic devices, this perfectly cast and impeccably acted film is one of the highlights of the festival.


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