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A Christmas Tale (2008)

Un conte de Noël (original title)
Not Rated | | Comedy, Drama | 21 November 2008 (USA)
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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 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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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, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$1,060,602, 1 February 2009
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The movie that Faunia watches while bored a few evenings before Christmas, is Funny Face (1957). And on Christmas Eve the whole family watches _The Ten Commandments (1956)_ (qv.) See more »

Goofs

When Henri and Faunia sneak out of the house, the camera operator is clearly visible in the door window. 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."
[...]
See more »

Connections

Features Funny Face (1957) See more »

Soundtracks

Expectation
(Christmas Carol)
Performed by The Coal Aston Carollers
From Record "English Village Carols"
Publisher and copyright Smithsonian Folkways Recording
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A loving film about some unlovable people
23 November 2008 | by Michael FargoSee all my reviews

It just doesn't get much better than this for fans of movie-making…or fans of music, art, literature, philosophy…even algebra? Arnaud Desplechin uses Robert Altman's impressionistic approach to film-making taking multiple characters, plots lines then adding Altman's playfulness with cinematic technique to dazzle the viewer with a rich mix of ideas and allusions. Watching, you just don't want it to end.

The actors here—as in Altman—take center stage. Catherine Deneuve is the reluctant matriarch of some pretty messed-up siblings. We aren't ever clued in on the exact details of the rifts and jealousies. We just recognize them from our own family experiences. During an introduction to the cast of characters at the beginning of the film, the death of a young infant early in the family's history suggests that interpersonal problems will result, but it can't be the sole reason for the pathologies represented. As in life, it's never a simple thing to find the "reason" for conflict, unhappiness or even joy. We simply have to accept it and make the best of the situations before us. And this film is a wonderful demonstration of making the best of a real mess.

There's not a weak link in the cast. And as the bizarre begin to assemble for a very strange Christmas homecoming the delight we feel for being onlookers instead of participants is palpable in the audience.

I should warn that this is not a film in the tradition of "Home Alone" or "A Christmas Story." You may wait a long time for the Baby Jesus to arrive here (as the children on the screen do). It's more a film about family life and the peculiar kind of fulfillment we get from the strife that results. As with the "ghost wolf" in this family's basement, we're haunted by the familiar and the strange: it's both fearful and thrilling to see. And that's a very admirable accomplishment for Arnaud Desplechin.


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