Films: A Christmas Tale

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  • Saturday, November 15, 5:00 PM
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A Christmas Tale  {Un Conte de Noël}

A Christmas Tale
Un Conte de Noël

France, 2008, 150 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Drama, Family Issues, Foreign
Programs: Special Presentations, Contemporary World Cinema
Language: French English Subtitles

DIRECTOR: Arnaud Desplechin
Producer: Pascal Caucheteux
Editor: Laurence Briaud
Screenwriter: Emmanuel Bourdieu, Arnaud Desplechin
Cinematographer: Eric Gautier
Principal Cast: Catherine Deneuve, Jean-Paul Roussillon, Mathieu Amalric, Emile Berling
US Distributor: IFC Films

MUST END Thursday, December 18
35mm presentation - Three generations of the troubled Vuillard family gather near Lille for Christmas, bearing guilt, resentment, and still-festering wounds. The matriarch, Junon (Catherine Deneuve), has recently been diagnosed with life-threatening cancer and needs a bone-marrow transplant. Tissue donations have long been a sore point among this group, so Junon’s gentle husband, Abel (Jean-Paul Roussillon), is already trying to smooth things over when their difficult children—hard-drinking prodigal son Henri (Mathieu Amalric of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, SDFF 30) and overbearing daughter Elizabeth (Anne Consigny)—revive old feuds. A collective breakdown seems imminent—but family ties have a way of binding fast.

Thus does French director Arnaud Desplechin (Kings and Queen; My Sex Life…or How I Got Into an Argument) return to his signature subjects—the dynamics of interpersonal relationships and the struggles of damaged individuals to survive their own pasts. Deneuve, Amalric, and Roussillon head up a powerful cast full of veterans of previous Desplechin films, including Chiara Mastroianni and Emmanuelle Devos as an outsider girlfriend who can scarcely believe the overwhelming complexity of the Vuillards’ problems.

Desplechin and cowriter Emmanuel Bourdieu claim the script was inspired, in part, by a book on surgical transplants—a strange provenance for such an emotionally charged yet often funny family drama. The director’s affection for his characters—and the care he and his cast take in plumbing their depths—enrich the knowingly wild theatricality of A Christmas Tale, which was nominated for a Palme d’Or at Cannes this year.


Los Angeles Film and TV Office- French Embassy, Yelp

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