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3.7 out of 5 stars17
3.7 out of 5 stars
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on 18 August 2009
Yet another middle class soap opera that the French do with such sophistication. Similar to Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train in which a dysfunctional group of family and friends travel from Paris to Limages to attend a funeral. A Christmas Tale tells the story of a reunion instigated by Junon the matriarch who needs to gather all the family together not just for Christmas but for reasons of her own. Catherine Deneuve, who still has a very commanding presence on screen, plays Junon wife of Abel (Jean-Paul Roussillon), mother of Anne Consigny's Elizebeth a reclusive playwright. The popular French actor Mathieu Amalric is the older son Henri a raging alcoholic who relishes confrontation. While Melvil Poupaud plays the youngest son Ivan who is the most unaffected of the three children. As the family members gather together for Christmas they attempt to reconcile the past and plan the future during which their own private tensions and affections are re-awakened. Terrific performances, as you would expect, from this high profile cast. A deliciously entertaining film. Best French film of 2008?
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on 5 April 2009
I have never written review for a film before, but this film is worth it, easily for me one of my favourite films of last year.

The first thing to say is this not really a Christmas film as the story happens to unfold at that time of year, the best time for family drama, as when else do you get an entire family under one roof, for more than an afternoon. It is a very worthy addition to the Desplechin already impressive cannon, it is a very funny dark ensemble film with absolutely pitch perfect performances from everyone, especially for me anyway Deneuve, Rossillon and as usual Amalric.

If you want to watch a brillant almost novel like film where you believe and care about the characters than is the film for you...otherwise stick to Four Christmas's.

And this introduced me to a brillant Chrismas song I had not heard before, Otis Reading's Merry Christmas Baby, perfect.
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on 6 January 2010
Forget the title.Christmas has nothing to do with it.What makes this a great film is the way the tale brings all the characters together so that they all interact brilliantly with one another and we care for them.A tour de force by director Desplechin and co-writer Bordieu.
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on 1 February 2014
No one really knows why the family are being brought together at Christmas but you do find out eventually - as does the family - but its not before the usually family tenses and strains, like and dislikes are examined comedically and beautifully. Another typically enjoyable French film that would never work in Hollywood......fab soundtrack - it's just perfect for the circling chaos.
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on 28 August 2009
Others have given the story and tenor of this film. I'll just say that Conte de Noël is one of the best two contemporary films that I saw in 2008. It was shown at the 2008 Melbourne International Film Festival and at a mini-Festival put on by Alliance Francaise in 2009. Conte de Noël never received a commercial release in Melbourne, perhaps nowhere in Australia.

Since seeing it I have tracked down copies of all Arnaud Desplechin's films and watched each at least three times, despite most being out of print (the early ones are pre-2000 DVD issues, with pretty dire transfers). One major film has never been been released on silver disc at all AFAIK, but fortuitously the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI, a government institution) put on a retrospective season in late 2008 which included it, and subsequently it was shown twice on our government multicultural TV channel SBS. Needless to say, I have multiple backup copies on two PVRs.

IMO Desplechin is a leading contemporary director who is yet to get his proper due, and all his early films deserve re-releases with decent mastering.

And there is a story here for someone to write. Desplechin, right from his first feature film La Sentinelle (1992) through to Conte de Noël, has consistently used an ensemble group of actors, mostly young and clearly his generation, who must share some common, most likely film educational, background. It is fascinating to watch this group develop over seventeen years. Not only has Desplechin emerged from this group, but also at least two independently famous major acting talents: Emmanuelle Devos and Mathieu Amalric.

Contrary to the information supplied above by Amazon, this Drakes Avenue Pictures New Wave 004 release is a two disc set, with the lesser known documentary L'Aimée (2007) featured on the second disc. I'm disappointed that Conte de Nöel did not come out on Blu-ray as in France (an edition with no English subtitles), but that is partly made up for here by the valuable presence of L'Aimée.
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on 4 October 2009
"A Christmas Tale" is similar to Desplechins earlier film, "Kings and Queen". Both films are about two and a half hours, displays a large gallery a of characters and has the same actors: Catherine Deneuve, Emmanuelle Devos, Mathieu Amalric and more. Amalric even plays a similar immature and irresponsible person. It is an entertaining story about human relations, beautifully shot and with characters interesting enough. 2,5 hours is a long time for a movie, but with so many characters to follow it feels a little too crowded. Maybe the story would suit a novel better.

The transfer/picture of the DVD is very good and sharp. There is also a whole extra disc with a documentary about the directors family /haven't watched it though).
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on 8 February 2013
Classical art french film set in a dysfunctional family. If you like french humour you will be served as it is just it.
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on 8 February 2011
This is more like a soap opera than a film as it is very long. It has all the ingredients of a soap and a dysfunctional family with their own problems all coming together for Christmas for a very good reason. It is definately my kind of film but I can understand it not being for some people.
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on 12 April 2016
I love this movie from the storyline, acting filming and sets. a great tale well told.
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Love or loath it - the BLU RAY of 2008's "A Christmas Tale" (which was beautifully filmed and is transferred to the format with the same top quality) - is only available on a USA Criterion Release - which is REGION-A LOCKED.

So unless your British or European BLU RAY player is chipped to be Multi-Region for Blu Ray (which most aren't - and those that are - cost a lot) - then buying this French movie will be an expensive and painful waste of time and money. It won't work on UK or EURO machines at all...

Unfortunately this is yet another film unavailable to us because of Region Coding...
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