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A Christmas Tale (The Criterion Collection)
Special Edition, The Criterion Collection
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In Arnaud Desplechin's beguiling A CHRISTMAS TALE (Un Conte de No'l), Catherine Deneuve brings her legendary poise to the role of Junon, matriarch of the troubled Vuillard family, who come together at Christmas after she learns she needs a bone marrow transplant from a blood relative. That simple family reunion setup, however, can't begin to describe the unpredictable, emotionally volatile experience of this film, an inventive, magical drama that's equal parts merriment and melancholy. Unrequited childhood loves and blinding grudges, brutal outbursts and sudden slapstick, music, movies, and poetry, A CHRISTMAS TALE ties it all together in a marvelously messy package.
L'aimee: Desplechin's 2007 documentary
New documentary featuring interviews with Desplechin and actors
Original theatrical trailers
New and improved English subtitle translation
PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Philip Lopate
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Top Customer Reviews
The matriarch of the family, Juno, played by Catherine Deneuve, has a blood disease that will cause her death without a bone marrow transplant. Everyone must be tested to see who could help save her life.The patriarch, Abel played by Jean-Paul Roussillon, who is in the fabric dye business, tries to keep life and limb together, but it is Junon who rules the roost. They had four children, though their oldest, Joseph, died of a rare condition when very young. Elizabeth, the daughter played by Anne Consigny, is very depressed. She does not remember ever being happy. Henri, played by Mathieu Amalric, is the drunk, and the one not liked by anyone, even his mother. Ivan, played by Melvil Poupaud, seems to be the sane and favored one. Elizabeth's teenage son Paul, played by Emile Berling, has just been diagnosed with schizophrenia, and will return to a sanitarium after the holidays. Here they all gather from Dec.22 to Dec. 26.
It turns out Henri, the unfavored one, and Paul, the Schizophrenic, both are good matches for Juno and her need for a bone marrow transplant. Henri and Paul bond over this match. Throughout the Four days many issues arise, and the biggest is the banning of Henri by Elizabeth for six years. From my viewpoint, every adult in this family has some sort of issue, mental issues raise their head most often, or blood dyscrasia. This makes for a film full of vim and vigor, and the more you hang in, the better off you are.
Recommended. prisrob 12-09-16
It's a visual encounter of lyrical dimensions. And in typical French fashion, its romantic and heartbreaking, yet unsentimental. Admitting my bias for Holiday films, and their ability display family dysfunction not disposed to constructive resolution, this is a film that goes beyond the neurosis and reveals something surprising--plain old good will in some seemingly irredeemable people. Our families often mess us up, but they also have the power to help us heal and bloom from, despite, and because of their influences. This film recognizes that, and makes not excuses for it. This film is on my top 25 films list.
In March of this year I watched "A Christmas Tale" once again and was put off by what I perceived to be the "indulgence" of the director. But all great directors have their indulgences which are more than compensated by memorable moments of brilliance. I came back from 5 week trip to Germany and gave this film at least 2 more viewings. Something about having been in Europe and away from North America -- Adapted me to the pacing and aesthetics of this work. Although there's a real time aspect to this film -- The inner lives and remembrances of its respective characters influence the pacing as well. I was comforted by the craziness of "A Christmas Tale", by its patchwork style and its messy / unsanitized look at the life of an unorthodox family. The classy, yet ramshackle, home of the parents, Abel Vuillard [Jean-Paul Roussillon] and Junon Vuillard [Catherine Deneuve], in which most of the action takes place -- Is an amazing aspect of the set that reflects the contradictions of the people who inhabit it.
The images, editing, score, intimate atmosphere and diverse stylistic elements of "A Christmas Tale" create a kaleidoscopic, albeit frayed, tapestry of the Vuillard family -- Who ultimately love each other despite ongoing and unresolved traumas and conflicts. Although they are seldom successful at it -- They at least attempt to make amends to one another and speak to one another's better nature. The cast is uniformly excellent and even though Catherine Deneuve essentially plays herself in so many of the films she's acted in -- The bluntness, cruelty and matter-of-factness, with which she imbues the role of Junon Vuillard -- Make her portrayal very effective. In the end, "A Christmas Tale" works as a meditation on life's beauty, mystery, turbulence and heartbreak.
Stephen C. Bird, Author of "Any Resemblance To A Coincidence Is Accidental"
Most Recent Customer Reviews
but I found the story line a little vague at times.Read more
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