7.0/10
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31 user 139 critic

A Christmas Tale (2008)

Un conte de Noël (original title)
Not Rated | | Comedy, Drama | 21 November 2008 (USA)
Trailer
2:19 | Trailer
The troubled Vuillard family is no stranger to illness, grief, and banishment, but when their matriarch requires a bone-marrow transplant, the estranged clan reunites just in time for Christmas.

Director:

Arnaud Desplechin

Writers:

Arnaud Desplechin (scenario and dialogue), Emmanuel Bourdieu (scenario and dialogue) | 2 more credits »
5 wins & 35 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Catherine Deneuve ... Junon Vuillard
Jean-Paul Roussillon ... Abel - Junon's husband
Anne Consigny ... Elizabeth Dédalus - Abel and Junon's oldest child
Mathieu Amalric ... Henri Vuillard - Abel and Junon's middle child
Melvil Poupaud ... Ivan Vuillard - - Abel and Junon's youngest child
Hippolyte Girardot ... Claude Dédalus- Elizabeth's husband
Emmanuelle Devos ... Faunia - Henri's lover
Chiara Mastroianni ... Sylvia Vuillard - Ivan's wife
Laurent Capelluto ... Simon - Junon's nephew - the painter cousin
Emile Berling Emile Berling ... Paul Dédalus - Elizabeth and Claude's son
Thomas Obled Thomas Obled ... Basile 'Baz' Vuillard - Ivan and Sylvia's son
Clément Obled Clément Obled ... Baptiste - Ivan and Sylvia's son
Françoise Bertin Françoise Bertin ... Rosaimée Vuillard - Abel's mother's girlfriend
Samir Guesmi ... Spatafora - the family friend at Roubaix
Azize Kabouche ... Doctor Zraïdi - the oncologist
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Storyline

The Vuillard family gathers: Junon and Abel, a daughter Elizabeth and her son Paul, Henri and a girlfriend, Ivan, his wife Sylvia and their young sons, and cousin Simon. Six years before, Elizabeth paid Henri's debts and demanded he never see her again or visit their parents' home. Paul, at 16, has mental problems and faces a clinical exam. Junon learns she needs a bone marrow transplant if she's to live beyond a few months: thus the détente bringing all together. Two family members have compatible marrow, but the spats, fights, cruel words, drunken toasts, and somewhat civilized bad behavior threaten all; plus Junon may simply refuse treatment. Do we know ourselves? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Finnish censorship visa register # 207824 delivered on 14-10-2008. See more »

Goofs

While Henri is at the barber shop being shaven, the shaving cream appears and disappears from his upper lip between shots. See more »

Quotes

Sylvia - Ivan's wife: When did it happen?
Simon - Junon's nephew - the painter cousin: What do you mean?
Sylvia - Ivan's wife: I want details. She mentioned a decision you all made. Tell me where and when. Was it here?
Simon - Junon's nephew - the painter cousin: Easter vacation, 1991. At the community centre. You were next door.
Sylvia - Ivan's wife: I remember. Is Ivan aware of this?
Simon - Junon's nephew - the painter cousin: It's history.
Sylvia - Ivan's wife: Was Ivan with you? Or did you and Henri decide our fate behind his back?
Simon - Junon's nephew - the painter cousin: Ivan was there.
Sylvia - Ivan's wife: What did you say?
Simon - Junon's nephew - the painter cousin: Henri and I were talking about you. Guy talk. Ivan was quiet, smiling. Then he said, "If I don't get her, I'll never get over it."
[...]
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Connections

References The New World (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

It's Been A Long Long Time
Written by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne
Performed by Brook Benton
Copyright Warner Chapell
Published by The Verve Music Group (1960)
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User Reviews

 
a big book of a film, with some invention and strong acting, that is too long
25 November 2008 | by Quinoa1984See all my reviews

I got to hand it to the filmmaker, Arnaud Desplechin, at least on one significant point: A Christmas Tale is like a big book faithfully adapted to the screen, only in this case non-existent, and it has that wonderful if imperfect feeling of surrounding oneself with the world and atmosphere and attitudes of a family where the dysfunction runs deep and clear, emphasizing Tolstoy's classic "no one unhappy family is the same" credo. His film is also sometimes a big melodrama, folded around a cancer story not unlike a more serious (yet sometimes lighter version of) The Royal Tenenbaums, and centered so firmly around the family during that crazy but loving-despite-everything time of Christmas you'd swear Desplechin watched the first hour of Fanny & Alexander too many times to count.

At the same time A Christmas Tale in very much a French film, is attitude and approach to narrative and occasionally nearing that dreaded P-word (pretentious) in being 2 1/2 hours of incidents and confrontations and little details and twists. A lot happens with the Vuillard family over a few days, but in it uncovers a whole can of worms involving a banished son (Mathieu Amalric, who thankfully is maybe the centerpiece of the ensemble in terms of being the black sheep like Anne Hathaway in Rachel Getting Married), a depressed daughter (Anne Consigny who, despite being effective in a one-note performance, is also so shrill and cold as a character it's hard to feel anything for her, at all, despite her plight of losing her older brother as a child), and a cousin who has loved his cousin's wife ever since he got him, Ivan, the youngest Vuillard brother, to hook up with her so many years ago. Meanwhile, the mother (Catherine Deneuve, who may not exactly be a great actress but is the greatest living female French star which carries a lot of weight as a true beauty), has cancer, possibly terminal, unless a donor comes forward.

So there's a lot here to work with - maybe, perhaps, arguably too much, though it's almost a credit to the director that I can't say exactly what (little things, for example, like the Christmas Eve sex scene are deliberately paced but for good reason), and he laces everything with a curious jazz score throughout, sometimes to great effect and sometimes not. But, at the least, it's wonderful to see so many good actors in one place, particularly Amalric who is quickly becoming a truly fantastic talent with a lot of range in the work I've seen him in- one day he's a subdued intelligence man in Munich, next he's paralyzed except for one eye-blinking in Diving Bell, and even a 007 villain- and here goes further in a scene stealing performance (one such scene is his toast at the Christmas dinner, a scene actually shocking and hilarious and sad all in a thirty-second split).

He and Deneuve and the underrated Jean-Paul Roussillon as the husband of Junon almost make me want to rate the movie higher. But alas, it is what it is: a very strong take on a familiar subject - crazy and light and dark and tragic and unnerving times with a family at Christmas - and standing it on its head, while also the things I mention above. Did I mention it's French? 7.5/10


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Details

Official Sites:

Official site [Japan]

Country:

France

Language:

French

Release Date:

21 November 2008 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Christmas Tale See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$63,837, 16 November 2008

Gross USA:

$1,060,922

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$7,356,393
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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