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A Christmas Tale (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
A Christmas Tale
The Criterion Collection
Director: Arnaud Desplechin
Genres: Indie & Art House
UR     2009     2hr 32min

In Arnaud Desplechin?s beguiling A Christmas Tale (Un conte de NoŽl), Catherine Deneuve brings her legendary poise to the role of Junon, matriarch of the troubled Vuillard family, who come together at Christmas after she l...  more »

     
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Movie Details

Director: Arnaud Desplechin
Genres: Indie & Art House
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House
Studio: Criterion
Format: Blu-ray - Color - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 12/01/2009
Original Release Date: 01/01/2008
Theatrical Release Date: 00/00/2008
Release Year: 2009
Run Time: 2hr 32min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 16
Edition: Special Edition
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: French
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Disappointly Bad
Stephen McHenry | Olney, MD USA | 12/29/2009
(1 out of 5 stars)

"I like some French films: this film has too many gaps in logical flow, too much irritating interference by the director, and the resolution to the key mystery is missing. It begins with detailing the existential angst of the main characters who spiritually and emotionally suffer as they battle with life itself and familial responsibility: very French, perfectly fine. At the outset it is revealed there has been a crucial act by one family member against another that changes the course of their lives; but the reason for the act is never resolved, although the effects of the act are the main current of the plot. The director interferes by 1) occasionally using "telescope" shots where all of the screen is dark except for a circle, but it is random and not used to any effect or point and only used for a while and then abandoned; 2) sometimes the characters speak directly to the camera and narrate, sort of, but sporadically, to little useful effect, and at one time some unknown person is narrating nothing of consequence; and 3) freeze frame Christmas card shots. All little director tricks, but used as "hey, here is a little trick!" instead of, "this will help the story."

At one point the 7 year old twin boys put on a Christmas play with the help of their mother and their dim witted older cousin: the play is the story of a man who was ostracized by his community because he had sex with a goat, but he is forgiven after his arm is torn off in punishment. The play is performed in front of the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve, while the family sits, smoking cigarettes, and watches, grandpa providing musical accompaniment on the guitar, and the grownups enthusiastically applaud when the arm is torn off and the play is over. What????

Catherine Denueve is naturally worth watching. I had very high hopes for this movie. The ending is inexcusable, providing no resolution to the main mystery presented in the beginning, but instead ends with a fuzzy illogical trick ending. This film could have been so much better."
A tedious and pretentious tale.
Ray Andrews | Wallingford, PA | 03/10/2010
(2 out of 5 stars)

"A Christmas family gathering with exciting French actors who have been given such angst-ridden and navel-gazing dialogue, it is a wonder they managed to survive such drivel. Two and a half hours of insufferable suffering of the upper crust, their inner conflicts are so shallow and, by a mile, the worst performance goes to Mathieu Almaric-a son Mama Deneuve never liked. After viewing this film, you will know why. Emmanuele Devos shows up as Mathieu's new love(she towers over him by a foot)-totally unbelievable. The terrific actor, Melvil Poupaud, who has a magnetic sceen presence, is almost wasted playing the understanding husband of Chiara Mastroianni.
Writer-director Arnaud Desplechin has given us a family that is, quite simply, unaccessible. I would be amazed if this was a hit in France."