Un Conte de Noël (A Christmas Tale)


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.



Total Count: 131


Audience Score

User Ratings: 23,417
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Un Conte de Noël (A Christmas Tale) Photos

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 (131) | 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

    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)

  • Dec 09, 2011
    This movie is excellent and it completely commands your attention through its 150 minute running time. Thankfully, the pace of the movie feels brisk because of every character in the family having their own interesting story to tell. If the movie was all focused on just one story, it would've dragged tremendously. Also even WITH so many subplots, the movie doesn't feel like it's jumbled or a mess. It is very easy to follow, despite the themes of the movie being complex. The acting and writing is tremendous. This has to be the best overall cast I've seen in a long time. The Fighter doesn't even come close to this. Overall this is a very special movie in which many elements come together to create a completely unique work of art. Highly recommended.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • Jan 07, 2011
    One of those films designed to make you feel better about your own Christmas gathering. A French family, headed by an affable yet inconsequential father and the kind of mother who shouldn't be allowed near anyone's children let alone her own, get together over the festive season to exchange barbed words and manipulations. With lots of mock-meaningful exchanges, as is the way with lots of French films, it felt like a long two and a half hours. Though not as long as it would have felt if you'd actually lived in that house.
    Lesley N Super Reviewer
  • Dec 25, 2010
    Have a pleasant gathering with the most dysfunctional family of the decade since Festen (1998), just in time for Christmas Eve and with Miss Deneuve at the center of the table. Enduring and uncomfortable, this shall satisfy some masochistic senses and please some other artistic ones. Magnifique. 77/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer
  • Dec 10, 2010
    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 B Super Reviewer

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