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A Christmas Tale

Released Nov 14, 2008 2h 30m Holiday Comedy Drama List
86% Tomatometer 133 Reviews 66% Audience Score 10,000+ Ratings
When steely French matriarch Junon (Catherine Deneuve) learns she has leukemia, she asks her children and grandchildren at the family Christmas gathering to see if they are eligible to become bone marrow donors. This causes deep friction in the family, especially between Junon's daughter Elizabeth (Anne Consigny) and son Henri (Mathieu Amalric), who already have a tumultuous relationship. Their mother's sickness also recalls the traumatic loss of their brother Joseph when they were children. Read More Read Less

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A Christmas Tale

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Critics Consensus

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

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Critics Reviews

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Stanley Kauffmann The New Republic [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 Nicholas Barber Independent (UK) It's a bracingly eccentric, waspishly intelligent blast of flashbacks, freeze frames, split screens, and bizarre music choices. Dec 10, 2014 Full Review Kevin Maher Times (UK) Perfect off-season timing for a wickedly off-kilter movie about a French family Christmas in extremis. Rated: 4/5 Dec 10, 2014 Full Review Dennis Harvey 48 Hills Some of the funniest, most well-deserved slaps in screen history. Dec 15, 2023 Full Review Brian Eggert Deep Focus Review There’s something special and unique about Desplechin’s film; after it fades into the end credits, it’s hard to escape the world it’s created. Rated: 4/4 Aug 30, 2023 Full Review David Harris Spectrum Culture Though A Christmas Tale clocks in at 152 minutes, it never feels tired or fails to compel. Oct 12, 2019 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

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Audience Member Runs out of steam after about 80 or 90 minutes but it's an involving enough black comedy with a very dysfunctional family at the center. Rated 2.5 out of 5 stars 02/20/23 Full Review Audience Member As a big fan of The Family Stone (2005) it wasn't long before I caught the parallels. But this is France, land of existentialism and comfortable with tragedy, so the sugar coating literally none of us experience in real life, is also here entirely absent. It's the difference between a cold glass of dry white wine and a coke. I have room in my life for both, but give me a choice and the wine will win. The family of characters are riveting and performed by some of the greatest of film actors, Deneuve and Mathieu Almaric amongst them. I laughed and I certainly cried, and I gasped - and this was the third time watched. Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars 02/14/23 Full Review dave s Featuring a variety of different cinematic styles, a large cast that is initially difficult to sort out, and the sporadic use of some distracting gimmicks, including matte shots, split screens, freeze frames, and more than one character speaking directly to the audience, it's safe to say that A Christmas Tale is probably not for all tastes. Junon (Catherine Deneuve), the matriarch of the family, suffers from leukemia and summons her family to return home for Christmas in order to explore the possibility of a donor for a bone marrow transplant. Similar to The Royal Tenenbaums, the film features interesting characters, fantastic dialogue, and great performances from the cast. For those who can overlook the film's aforementioned quirks and a lengthy running time, it has the opportunity to be a rewarding experience. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 03/30/23 Full Review Audience Member This movie made me regret ever learning french. I generally enjoy french cinema, but this film is nothing but the pedantic and pretentious drivel of an incestuous and unlikeable family. It never ties up its loose ends, the editing is clumsy and bizarre and continuity is mediocre at best. Came off like a lazy ego trip and I genuinely regret the 2.5 hours (did i forget to mention how long it is??) that I dedicated to it. If watching this movie weren't an assignment I would have ducked out after 45 minutes, and I can honestly say that I don't feel that it redeemed itself at all after that 45 minutes. Maybe I'm not artsy enough to delight in this asinine imitation of an intellectual film, but I don't feel any worse for not "getting" it. Catherine Deneuve was wonderful, however. Rated 0.5 out of 5 stars 02/26/23 Full Review Audience Member It delivers on the black but barely on the comedy, yet A CHRISTMAS TALE is a beautiful tale of familial dysfunction, lifelong struggle, and redemption for even the worst. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 02/10/23 Full Review scott s An interesting tale about a dysfunctional family that gets together for the holidays, as their matriarch is in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant. As each family member's story unfolds we see that no matter what has messed up your family is, being in one is inescapable. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 03/30/23 Full Review Read all reviews
A Christmas Tale

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Cast & Crew

Movie Info

Synopsis When steely French matriarch Junon (Catherine Deneuve) learns she has leukemia, she asks her children and grandchildren at the family Christmas gathering to see if they are eligible to become bone marrow donors. This causes deep friction in the family, especially between Junon's daughter Elizabeth (Anne Consigny) and son Henri (Mathieu Amalric), who already have a tumultuous relationship. Their mother's sickness also recalls the traumatic loss of their brother Joseph when they were children.
Director
Arnaud Desplechin
Producer
Pascal Caucheteux
Screenwriter
Emmanuel Bourdieu, Arnaud Desplechin
Distributor
IFC Films
Production Co
Why Not Productions, Wild Bunch, France 2 Cinéma
Genre
Holiday, Comedy, Drama
Original Language
French (France)
Release Date (Theaters)
Nov 14, 2008, Limited
Release Date (Streaming)
Oct 15, 2016
Box Office (Gross USA)
$1.1M
Runtime
2h 30m
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