A Christmas Tale (“Un Conte de Noel”) (2008 Cannes Film Festival)
It wouldn’t be Cannes without at least one French movie about familial angst, social ennui, and the specter of death. Arnaud Desplechin brought the goods this year with his irreverent, multi-layered story, set in his hometown of Roubaix, about Abel (Jean-Paul Roussllon) and his wife Junon Vuillard (Catherine Deneuve) whose loss of a son to lymphoma informs their existence. Now years later with three grown children—Ivan (Melvil Poupaud), a hopeless romantic, Henri (Mathieu Amalric), the family black sheep, and Elizabeth (Anne Consigny), who disowned Henri five years ago--reunite for Christmas. In need of a bone-marrow transplant, Junon has limited choices for a donor, but doesn’t let even the threat ruffle her Gallic feathers. There are no martyrs in this anti-sentimental ironic movie that nevertheless percolates with emotion and accepts its quirky characters for all of their flaws.
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