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A Christmas Tale [DVD] 
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Arnaud Desplechin comes home for Christmas in his outrageous, daring and emotionally bountiful new movie. Catherine Deneuve is Junon, the family matriarch, who greets the news of her life-threatening illness with calm equanimity. Jean-Paul Roussillon is her wise, tender husband. Desplechin regular Mathieu Amalric is the black sheep, banished from the family by his imperious sister (Anne Consigny, both actors last seen in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly), who arrives with his bemused Jewish girlfriend in tow (Emmanuelle Devos). Melvil Poupaud is the most sensitive of the children, happily married to the divine Chiara Mastroianni.
It's hard to miss with such a cast, but A Christmas Tale is much, much more than a good ensemble comedy. In this midwinter night's dream, unrequited love collides with bitter resentment, nostalgic longing crosses paths with abject fear, and pure hatred gives way to vivacious affection.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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).
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I love this movie from the storyline, acting filming and sets. a great tale well told.Published 4 months ago by Sally O'Brien
Weird art-house stuff. Says it's funny on the back of the package, but I didn't notice anything amusing or even remotely so. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Jill Hubbard
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... Read morePublished on 22 Feb. 2014 by Mark Barry
Classical art french film set in a dysfunctional family. If you like french humour you will be served as it is just it.Published on 8 Feb. 2013 by HelF
A Christmas Tale, "Un Conte de Noel," (2008. This unconventional tale of a dysfunctional family's agonizingly strained, animosity-filled Christmas reunion was written and directed... Read morePublished on 31 Oct. 2011 by Stephanie De Pue
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... Read morePublished on 8 Feb. 2011 by WhistleDownTheWind