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A Christmas Tale [DVD] [2008]

3.7 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Catherine Deneuve, Jean-Paul Roussillon, Mathieu Amalric, Anne Consigny, Melvil Poupaud
  • Directors: Arnaud Desplechin
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Drakes Avenue Pictures
  • DVD Release Date: 1 Jun. 2009
  • Run Time: 150 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001TLWR0U
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 44,295 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

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.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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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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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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.
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"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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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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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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