A CHRISTMAS TALE
Release Date: November 14, 2008
Starring: Catherine Deneuve, Jean-Paul
Roussillon, Anne Consigny,
Mathieu Amalric, Melvil
Poupaud, Hippolyte Girardot,
and Emmanuelle Devos
Runtime: 152 minutes
Distributor: IFC Films
Director: Arnaud Desplechin
Executive Producer: None
Writer: Arnaud Desplechin and Emmanuel
Address Comments To:Jonathan Sehring, President, IFC Films/IFC Entertainment
Joshua Sapan, President/CEO, Rainbow Media Holdings LLC
(Independent Film Channel/IFC Films/IFC First Take/AMC/WE)
11 Penn Plaza
New York, NY 10001
Phone: (212) 324-8500
There are multiple stories as the family meets.
Elizabeth and Henri are estranged since Elizabeth “banished” him from the family by paying off his debts. The cause of their separation is never fully explained. Elizabeth’s son Paul struggles with mental illness, something with which his uncle Ivan struggled as well. Ivan’s wife Sylvia discovers her pent-up romantic feelings for Ivan’s cousin Simon.
All of these stories are against the backdrop of Junon’s impending illness. She must determine if the risk of the bone marrow transplant is less than the risk of the progressing disease. This leads to much discussion of statistics and the odds of living.
The movie is very long at 152 minutes, though it doesn’t seem to drag because of the many different emotionally charged stories. The director has the characters often look at the camera and reveal their inner thoughts. Another unique twist is the use of a circle/iris covering over some of the scenes, highlighting certain aspects of the frame.
While the characters are well rounded, they are not likeable. They have so many problems, and we often don’t fully understand their motivations.
The movie suffers from a worldview without God. The family tries to understand the odds of whether the transplant would be worth the risk. Without God, their lives have no real meaning.
Ivan’s young boys stay up on Christmas Eve to see when “Jesus is going to come,” confusing the Savior with Santa Claus. Ivan replies that Jesus never existed. There is much sarcasm as some of the family members go to Christmas Eve mass with joking statements about “drinking blood.” Even with this during Mass, the troubled teenager Paul goes forward to pray.
Finally, Sylvia and Simon have an affair, which Sylvia’s husband Ivan seems to know about and condone.
Though well produced, A CHRISTMAS TALE warrants extreme caution because of its strong humanist worldview, foul language and sexual content.
This movie is very long at 152 minutes, though it doesn’t seem to drag because of the many different emotionally charged stories. While the characters are well rounded, they are not likeable. They have many problems and their motivations are not always clear. The movie suffers from a worldview without God. The family tries to understand the odds of whether the transplant would be worth the risk. Without God, their lives have no meaning. Though well made, A CHRISTMAS TALE warrants extreme caution.