Un Conte de Noël (A Christmas Tale)

2008

Un Conte de Noël (A Christmas Tale)

Critics Consensus

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

86%

TOMATOMETER

Reviews Counted: 130

66%
liked it

Audience Score

User Ratings: 23,417

TOMATOMETER

N/A
All Critics | Top Critics
Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0

AUDIENCE SCORE

66%
Average Rating: 3.4/5

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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 was a bone marrow transplant, but Abel, Junon, and Elizabeth were all incompatible. In one last, desperate chance to save their son's life, Abel and Junon conceived a third child. But not even little Henri could save his ailing brother's life. Joseph died at the age of seven, and neither his siblings nor his parents have ever found the strength to recover. Years later, family relations have deteriorated beyond the point of repair; the tensions between family matriarch Elizabeth and her cynical brother Henri finally culminating in a violent confrontation in which Elizabeth banishes her alcoholic brother and refuses him further contact with his troubled adolescent nephew, Paul. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for Un Conte de Noël (A Christmas Tale)

All Critics (130) | Top Critics (37)

  • [Desplechin] has skill, patience, empathy, and insight; quickened by the holiday occasion, they make the title of his film ultimately, if unconventionally, right.

    Dec 10, 2014 | Full Review…
  • Perfect off-season timing for a wickedly off-kilter movie about a French family Christmas in extremis.

    Dec 10, 2014 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

    Kevin Maher

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • Despite occasional bouts of tedium over the epic course, a surprising buoyancy emerges: Desplechin's methods begin to inform, even brighten, the message.

    Dec 6, 2013 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • Desplechin is an inspired impurist. His Christmas Tale is untidy, overstuffed and delicious: a genuine holiday feast.

    Dec 6, 2013 | Full Review…

    David Ansen

    Newsweek
    Top Critic
  • 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.

    Jan 16, 2009 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

    Dave Calhoun

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • The film is almost as involving as it is infuriating.

    Jan 16, 2009 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

    Wendy Ide

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Un Conte de Noël (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

Bruce Bruce
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.

Nicki Marie
Nicki Marie

Super Reviewer

½

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.

Tim Sigur
Tim Sigur

Super Reviewer

½

French family drama with strong performances but rather too much abstract philosophizing and strange continental angst for me.

Gordon Anderson
Gordon Anderson

Super Reviewer

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