A Christmas Tale (2008)

StarStarStarEmpty Star

Director: Arnaud Desplechin
Cast: Catherine Deneuve, Chiara Mastroianni, Mathieu Amalric, Hippolyte Girardot, Emmanuelle Devos


The medical travails of a bourgeois family from Roubaix come to a head one Christmas when the only compatible bone marrow donor to give the grandmother a chance of surviving leukaemia turns out to be either her mentally unbalanced grandson or the son she once disowned and her sister banished from the family six years previously.

The Review

Desplechin's magnificently sleek chamber cinema finds its perfect outlet in this dysfunctional family study, one of a rash of films at the time which examined the effects of the selfish generation (60s/70s) on the precious bourgeois family unit. This was the best, combining as it did all the concerns of those films, from inheritance to internecene struggles for survival; there is little in the way of hugging here, save between one daugher-in-law and her husband's cousin!