9.5

A Christmas Tale

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A Christmas Tale

Release Date: Nov. 14 (limited)
Director: Arnaud Desplechin
Writer: Emmanuel Bourdieu, Desplechin
Cinematographer: Eric Gautier
Starring: Catherine Deneuve, Jean-Paul Roussillon, Mathieu Amalric, Anne Consigny, Emmanuelle Devos, Hippolyte Girardot, Chiara Mastroianni, Melvil Poupaud
Studio/Run Time: ?IFC Films, 143 mins.

Complex, pleasing holiday film

A Christmas Tale
is a lively, capricious, mischievous ensemble delight—the kind of movie Noah Baumbach would make if he were French and a little more hopeful about humanity. Abel (Jean-Paul Roussillon) and Junon (Catherine Deneuve) have three grown children, two of whom (Anne Consigny and Mathieu Amalric, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) have long been estranged. Now, as Junon needs a dangerous transfusion to survive cancer, everyone convenes in the family home to celebrate Christmas together.

Though the film deals with many exceptionally depressing topics (mental illness, hatred, life-threatening disease, lost love, betrayal) director Arnaud Desplechin (Kings and Queen) never veers into maudlin territory. Instead, with a lightly stylized touch, A Christmas Tale avoids taking itself or its characters’ foibles too seriously. Family members might hate each other, but something like love is underneath it all.



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