Watch A Christmas Tale
- 2 hr 30 min
A Christmas Tale, a 2008 French drama film directed by Arnaud Desplechin, explores the themes of forgiveness, family bonds, and the rituals of the holiday season. The story revolves around the Vuillard family who reunite for Christmas after a period of estrangement and discord. The matriarch Junon (Catherine Deneuve) has been diagnosed with a rare disease which necessitates a bone marrow transplant. Her three children, Elizabeth (Anne Consigny), Henri (Mathieu Amalric), and Ivan (Melvil Poupaud), come together with their respective partners, children, and friends to offer her the hope of healing.
However, their family history is plagued with past losses, betrayals, and resentments. Henri, the black sheep of the family, has recently been released from jail after stealing from his sister. He despises Christmas and his siblings but agrees to donate his bone marrow to Junon, perhaps as a means of redemption, as their genetic compatibility is the highest among the family members.
Elizabeth, on the other hand, is the practical and responsible one, but she is consumed by grief over the loss of her first-born, Joseph, and finds solace in her work as a gallery owner. Her husband, Claude (Jean-Paul Roussillon), who loves her deeply and harbors no grudges against Henri, is a gentle and philosophical soul who tries to hold the family together.
The other main characters are Abel (Jean-Pierre Darroussin), Elizabeth's ex-boyfriend who still carries a torch for her, and Faunia (Emmanuelle Devos), a cousin of Elizabeth's husband who arrives unexpectedly with her mute son, Paul, and inspires the family with her vitality and whimsy.
As Christmas approaches, the family members bond over their shared heritage, their quirky personalities, and their love for Junon. They try to avoid old arguments, relish new experiences, and embrace the healing power of forgiveness. However, the past demons keep resurfacing, and each member has to confront painful truths, make amends, and move on.
The film is characterized by Desplechin's elaborate and nonlinear storytelling style, frequent flashbacks, and voiceovers that give insights into the characters' inner worlds. The performances of the veteran cast are impeccable, especially Catherine Deneuve, who lends gravitas and warmth to her role as the ailing mother who wants nothing more than her family's reconciliation.
The cinematography by Eric Gautier is stunning, capturing the wintry landscapes of Roubaix, a small town in Northern France, and the colorful decorations of the holiday season. The soundtrack by Gregoire Hetzel is also noteworthy, blending classical pieces and contemporary pop songs to create a festive mood.
A Christmas Tale is a poignant and witty exploration of family dynamics, where the humor and pathos coexist. It may not have a happy ending or a straightforward plot, but it celebrates the human capacity for resilience, generosity, and hope. It's a film that reminds us that Christmas is not just about exchanging gifts, but about giving and receiving love.
A Christmas Tale is a 2008 comedy with a runtime of 2 hours and 30 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.0 and a MetaScore of 84.