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Un Conte de NoŽl (A Christmas Tale) (2008)



Average Rating: 7.5/10
Reviews Counted: 121
Fresh: 104 | Rotten: 17

A sharp black comedy about a chaotic family holiday gathering, A Christmas Tale is always involving, thanks to an impressive ensemble cast.


Average Rating: 7.6/10
Critic Reviews: 34
Fresh: 30 | Rotten: 4

A sharp black comedy about a chaotic family holiday gathering, A Christmas Tale is always involving, thanks to an impressive ensemble cast.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 23,257

My Rating

Movie Info

The devastating reverberations of a profound tragedy echo through generations of a long-suffering French family in this emotional family drama from director Arnaud Desplechin. When Abel and his wife, Junon, started a family, it seemed like the seeds of true happiness had been planted. But while their daughter, Elizabeth, was healthy from the day she was born, things quickly turned dark when her brother Joseph was diagnosed with a rare and deadly genetic condition. Joseph's only hope for survival

Nov 10, 2009


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Latest News on Un Conte de NoŽl (A Christmas Tale)

January 8, 2009:
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The 14th Annual Critics' Choice Awards were given on January 8, 2009, to honor the finest...


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All Critics (121) | Top Critics (34) | Fresh (104) | Rotten (17) | DVD (8)

Despite occasional bouts of tedium over the epic course, a surprising buoyancy emerges: Desplechin's methods begin to inform, even brighten, the message.

December 6, 2013 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
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Desplechin is an inspired impurist. His Christmas Tale is untidy, overstuffed and delicious: a genuine holiday feast.

December 6, 2013 Full Review Source: Newsweek
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You could, of course, forgive the whole enterprise as the extravagances of an intellectual fairytale, but the film's wayward eccentricities outweigh its good performances and breezy telling of a jumble of a plot.

January 16, 2009 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
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In this dark comedy everyone is at the end of someone else's strings.

December 12, 2008 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis Star Tribune
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[It] will make anyone dreading the holidays with their family grateful for what strife they may face. It's nothing compared to what the Vuillard clan gets up to.

December 5, 2008 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
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A triumph of willed optimism (or perhaps more accurately, of grudging good nature) over unhappy experiences...

December 5, 2008 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine
TIME Magazine
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Given his cornucopia of characters fighting wars on three fronts, his whiplash tonal switchbacks, his jazzlike aesthetic of chance, how is it that Arnaud Desplechin is only now coming home for the holidays?

July 8, 2014 Full Review Source: Stop Smiling
Stop Smiling

The result is a massively overstuffed stocking of joy and bitterness, but one that more than meets the holiday movie genre's prerequisites for purification.

December 6, 2013 Full Review Source: indieWIRE

As the rituals of Christmas are observed, the family edges closer towards a sense of understanding and acceptance in a picture that captures a sense of life's messy uncertainties and the way we sometimes hurt the ones we love the most.

December 6, 2013 Full Review Source: Daily Express
Daily Express

It's maddening and it's exhilarating.

December 6, 2013 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

A Christmas Tale's more universal qualities should be apparent to anyone who has survived a Christmas, and God help us, here comes another one.

December 6, 2013 Full Review Source: MetroActive

Its numerous narrative strands are neither revealingly pursued nor properly intertwined.

December 6, 2013 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

A Christmas Tale has a classical feel, even though the mischievous Desplechin tosses in shadow puppets, iris shots, and actors speaking directly to the camera. It's this ability to surprise that gives the film its spark.

December 6, 2013 Full Review Source: Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
Metro Times (Detroit, MI)

Desplechin's film is so well cast and the relationships so authentically depicted that it's okay not to be completely or partially taken by Junon, Henri, and the rest of their kin.

December 6, 2013 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

A Christmas Tale is a lively, capricious, mischievous ensemble delight.

December 6, 2013 Full Review Source: Paste Magazine
Paste Magazine

The movie teems with the excitement of unwrapping a present, even as it deals more seriously with the intractability of blood ties.

December 4, 2012 Full Review Source: Time Out Chicago
Time Out Chicago

Even Amalric's ray of light can't penetrate the gloom enough to make this much more than a rather strained actors' exercise.

August 16, 2011 Full Review Source: East Bay Express
East Bay Express

The film (has) a sensibility that is paradoxically both old-fashioned and very modern.

November 29, 2009 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

Till life do us part

July 22, 2009 Full Review Source: JWR

Un drama coral y familiar sobre relaciones disfuncionales, viejos rencores, odios y amores, enfermedad y muerte. Puede resultar tan desconcertante e irritante como sorprendente y humana. Lo innegable es la calidad de su elenco.

July 1, 2009 Full Review Source: Uruguay Total
Uruguay Total

Un conte de NoŽl could use more of the surreal hilarity of Wes Anderson'sThe Royal Tenenbaums.

April 23, 2009 Full Review Source: Boston Phoenix
Boston Phoenix

Controlled chaos of a family reunion highlighed by likeable but flawed characters

April 21, 2009 Full Review Source: Movie Habit
Movie Habit

A droll and frantic melodrama stripped of aesthetic contrivances but full of emotional ones, and it is affirming in its own way without being particularly cathartic.

March 26, 2009 Full Review Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Arnaud Desplechin's headfirst dive into the complex relationships within a middle class French family is a messy, captivating, and very much living affair.

February 9, 2009 Full Review Source: Window to the Movies
Window to the Movies

Audience Reviews for Un Conte de NoŽl (A Christmas Tale)

Movie 22 is from the Criterion Collection, right away by being in the Criterion Collection you know the movie is going to be a little strange and it is, about a very dysfunctional family who reunites at Christmas time, Mom is sick with cancer and needs a marrow transplant and of course the hated son is the only compatible donor. If your into Indie films then you will enjoy this if your idea of a great film is something with Will Farrell in it (Elf) then this is not for you. 4 Stars
December 10, 2010
Bruce Bruce

Super Reviewer

This is a really well made film with an excellent cast. It is, however, extremely long at around 2 and a half hours, and while interesting, not a whole lot gets resolved. It kind of reminded me of "The family Stone", in French, and with less likeable characters. The people in this are all extremely flawed and it's a lot to sit there and try and understand some of the motivations.
I must admit it did not drag out or feel over long despite it's length, and though I would have liked a few more answers to some things, perhaps it was just not important in the long run.
March 22, 2010

Super Reviewer

This movie is not for everyone. I'll put it this way, if you thought Magnolia was way too over the top and pretensious, then you will hate this movie from the first frame and should probably just turn it off because it doesn't slow down from it's manic pace one bit. Even to me, there are some stylistic choices that Arnaud Desplechian uses that I found myself rolling my eyes over, but what made me really enjoy this film was the acting and the writing, which I think are some the best I have seen this year. The entire cast is great and each one of them (even the naturalistic kids) give fantastic performances. It's like a Cassavettes film, but stylized and probably one of the most dysfuctional families ever put on film (they are dysfuctional to the point of being confusing in certain parts of the film). Again, not for everyone, but I liked it a lot and thought the ending was beautiful. It's like a soap opera on coke.
December 18, 2009

Super Reviewer

French family drama with strong performances but rather too much abstract philosophizing and strange continental angst for me.
June 2, 2009
Gordon A

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Un Conte de NoŽl (DE)
  • A Christmas Tale (Un conte de Noel) (UK)
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